Combating Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Materials: Compliance with HEOA Provisions

I. Overview and Purpose

The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA) requires institutions of higher education to combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials by users of the institution’s network. The information presented in this document is intended to meet the requirements of the HEOA as specified in the final regulations published by the United States Department of Education on October 29, 2009, in 74 FR 55902; and in the Dear Colleague Letter dated June 4, 2010 (DCL ID: GEN-10-08). The final regulations are available online here: www.ifap.ed.gov/fregisters/FR102909GeneralandNonLoanProgrammaticFinalRule.html.

DCL GEN-10-08 is available online here: www.ifap.ed.gov/dpcletters/GEN1008.html.

The final regulations specify "that an institution must have developed and implemented written plans to effectively combat unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material and that the institution will offer alternatives to illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property."

II. University Policy

The University of Central Arkansas’ Board of Trustees adopted its Computer Use Policy (Board Policy No. 412) in 1999. The policy is available online here: www.uca.edu/board/400series/documents/412.pdf.

Among its provisions, Board Policy No. 412 prohibits the use of the University’s computing resources to engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials.

III. Plans

Technology. The University of Central Arkansas employs packet shaping technology to restrict and/or control bandwidth utilization on the campus Internet connection. The technology allows the University to identify various types of traffic and apply shaping policies based on that identification.

Information. The University educates its community in the following ways:

  • This document is published online at www.uca.edu/legal/heoacopyright/ and is updated from time to time to reflect changes in the regulatory environment, technology, and university policy.
  • Additional information is published by the Office of General Counsel at www.uca.edu/legal/ (see Copyright Compliance in the navigation panel at the left side of the page).
  • Annual notice is made to enrolled students, by means of a message to each student’s university email account.
  • Workstations in university computer laboratories used by students periodically display a warning against unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material.
  • The Torreyson Library makes available in the library and through links on its web site information about copyright law and related issues. See the Copyright Resources tab at http://libguides.uca.edu/copyright.
  • The University’s Office of General Counsel periodically sponsors seminars on copyright law for students, faculty, and staff.

Procedures for handling violations. Board Policy No. 412 prohibits the unauthorized use of computing resources and information technology, including the unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted materials. The UCA Student Handbook details appropriate and inappropriate uses of information technology, as well as sanctions for violation. Board Policy No. 412 and the provisions in the UCA Student Handbook give the University appropriate mechanisms to discipline those who violate the copyright law, including suspension or expulsion of students, or the termination of employment of faculty and staff.

The UCA Student Handbook is available online, linked from this page: www.uca.edu/student/dean/student_handbook.php.

Review of effectiveness of plans. Annual staff review monitors the regulatory environment, relevant technologies, and best practices to evaluate the effectiveness of the plans outlined above.

IV. Legal Alternatives to Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Materials

EDUCAUSE – "a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology" ( www.educause.edu/ ) – maintains an extensive list of Legal Sources of Online Content at www.educause.edu/legalcontent.

V. Consumer Information

The information in this document ( www.uca.edu/legal/heoa_copyright.php ) is available in paper copy upon request. To make such a request or for further information, phone the Office of General Counsel, (501) 450-3170.

VI. Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violating 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. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.

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.

For more information, see the web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at www.copyright.gov, and especially their FAQs at www.copyright.gov/help/faq/.