Higher Education Opportunity Act: Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Information

The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) includes provisions to reduce the illegal uploading and downloading of copyrighted works through peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing.  Specifically, HEOA requires institutions to:

  1. Make an annual disclosure that informs students that the illegal distribution of copyrighted materials may subject them to criminal and civil penalties and describes the steps that institutions will take to detect and punish illegal distribution of copyrighted materials.
  2. Certify to the Secretary of Education that they have developed plans to “effectively combat” the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material.
  3. Offer alternatives to illegal file sharing, “to the extent practicable”.
  4. Identify procedures for periodically reviewing the effectiveness of the plans to combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials.

1. Annual Disclosure

The University of St. Francis uses the following methods to inform students about copyright laws:

  • Each semester, students receive an announcement about peer-to-peer file sharing and copyright when they log in to the University’s portal, and they are required to acknowledge that they have read the message. This announcement provides links to detailed information regarding the University’s Technology Use Policy and Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Policy, and provides links to legitimate sources of digital content.
  • The University of St. Francis’ copyright website provides information and guidelines for copyright laws and fair use to the campus community.
  • All students are required to adhere to the practices stated in the Technology Use Policy, which includes a section on copyright compliance. This policy is included in the Student Handbook and is posted on the University’s portal.

2. Effectively Combat the Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Material

The University of St. Francis uses several technology-based deterrents to combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials:

  • USF currently has a restrictive firewall in place to help prevent file sharing.
  • The current network switch infrastructure supports policy-based security, which can prevent access to known peer-to-peer TCP/IP ports that are used by common file sharing services and programs.
  • USF is currently building towards a full-featured network control solution which will enable MAC address registration, tracking and the interrogation of workstations that attempt to access the enterprise network system.

3. Offering Alternatives to Illegal File Sharing

The University of St. Francis portal provides links to sites that provide numerous options for obtaining music, videos, and other digital content in a legal manner. Students are encouraged to take advantage of these legitimate sources of digital content.

4. Reviewing Effectiveness

These steps will be reviewed annually by the Information Technology (IT) department and the Chief Information Officer each June and revised as necessary to remain in compliance. Based on the monitoring data that IT collects relative to network traffic, the review will assess the overall effectiveness of the University’s policy and procedures to promote the legal use of copyrighted materials. Any changes to the policy and/or procedures will take effect at the beginning of the following academic year.

Adopted February 2010

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