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Illegal File Sharing and the Higher Education Opportunity Act

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

In April 2008 the Department of Education drafted the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA). HEOA deals with unauthorized file sharing on campus networks and enforcement of this act’s provisions began July 1, 2010. Institutions of higher education must make an effort to comply with the provisions of this act. The Educause website provides an excellent overview of the provisions of the act, as well as suggestions for complying. Here’s a relevant excerpt from Educause’s site:

Several sections of the HEOA deal with unauthorized file sharing on campus networks, imposing three general requirements on all U.S. colleges and universities:

  • An annual disclosure to students describing copyright law and campus policies related to violating copyright law.
  • A plan to “effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials” by users of its network, including “the use of one or more technology-based deterrents”.
  • A plan to “offer alternatives http://www.educause.edu/legalcontent to illegal downloading.”

To comply with the act, Middlebury College has undertaken the following steps:

  1. Legal alternatives to illegal downloading are described in the Computing Policies section of the handbook: go.middlebury.edu/p2p
  2. Copyright laws and policies are published through Middlebury College’s copyright page (go.middlebury.edu/copyright), as well as the Computing Policies section of the Handbook, in particular go.middlebury.edu/p2p
  3. A plan is in place to combat unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials. The plan relies on a combination of packet shaping and NAC technology, as well as education:
    • Every year, students register their computing devices through our network registration process. Part of the registration involves reading and agreeing to our Responsible Use policy. Network registration is enforced through a NAC appliance from Bradford networks.
    • We respond promptly and regularly to DMCA notices. The College has a DMCA agent that promptly contacts the user that is in violation according to the DMCA notice. Repeated offenses result in loss of network access.
    • The use of posters that regularly appear in commonly used public spaces, such as the Davis Family Library.
    • This plan is reviewed periodically through the work of the security team.

Note that Educause offers a selection of Role Model Institutions that have implemented a variety of similar compliance strategies.