HEOA Peer-to-Peer

HEOA Peer-to-Peer

Millersville University, Information Technology and the Higher Education Opportunity Act

On October 29, 2009, the Department of Education issued final regulations related to Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file sharing on campus networks.  The three primary requirements are:

  1. An annual disclosure to students describing copyright law and campus policies related to violating copyright law 

Violation of copyright is violation of federal law, and such violations are addressed in many relevant University policies, including the Student Code of Conduct and the University's Policy on Responsible Use of Information Technology Resources.

The best way you can help Millersville University comply with these final regulations and assist in combatting copyright abuse on campus is to become informed about file-sharing.  A helpful source for information about p2p and file sharing is EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology.  The Educause series of "7 Things you should know about...." includes a comprehensive overview of P2P. To find out more about the 7 things you should know about P2P, read http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EST0901.pdf

Unauthorized distribution of copyright material may result in civil and criminal penalties.  More information about copyright violations and associated fines can be found at in Chapter 5 - Copyright Law of the United States of America . Refer to section 506 - Criminal Offenses for penalties.  In addition to these penalties, students found to be in violation of copyright law may also lose their eligibility for federal student aid funds, and may be subject to sanctions under the Student Code of Conduct.

The University uses particular procedures in determining how to respond to allegations of violation of copyright.  You can read them here:  http://www.millersville.edu/dmca.php

  1. Develop a plan to effectively combat copyright abuse on the campus network using one or more technology-based deterrents.

Millersville University has implemented a series of coordinated steps to effectively combat copyright abuse on our network.  They include the use of devices attached to the network that allow traffic to move through the network according to priorities consistent with the University's mission.  Network traffic that can be identified as peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing is assigned low priority (but not stopped entirely), restricting such traffic to a very small percentage of the total bandwidth available. Throttling this type of traffic to zero would cause some of the peer-to-peer applications to automatically use alternative technical mechanisms for their transfers and make identification harder.  Our strategy for managing the network's bandwidth means that network performance in accomplishing the kinds of file sharing that often are associated with copyright law violation is so poor as to be practically unusable.

  1. Offer legal alternatives to illegal downloading.

    A comprehensive list of legal downloading alternatives may be found at the Educause - Legal Downloading site

Statement On Copyright And On-Line Materials Page

Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws

Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement.

Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties

In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or "statutory" damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For "willful" infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees. More information about copyright violations and associated fines can be found in Chapter 5 - Copyright Law of the United States of America, Sections 504, 505 and 506.. 

There you will learn that willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.  In addition to these penalties, students found to be in violation of copyright law may also lose their eligibility for federal student aid funds, and may be subject to University sanctions under the Student Code of Conduct.

For more information, about copyright law, visit the website for the U.S. Copyright Office at www.copyright.gov , especially their FAQ's at www.copyright.gov/help/faq.