College Copyright Policies on File Sharing Required by HEOA

Today (1 July 2010) marks the day that the U.S. Higher Education Opportunity Act (“HEOA”) provisions come into force. Several sections of the HEOA  deal with unauthorized file sharing on campus networks, requiring all U.S. colleges and universities to provide the following with respect to copyright policies.

  1. An annual disclosure that explicitly informs students that unauthorized distribution of copyright-protected content, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may expose the students to civil and criminal liabilities.  This should include a summary of those civil and criminal liabilities, and describe copyright and campus policies on violating copyright.
  2. A plan to “combat” piracy by users of its network, including the use of any technology-based deterrents.
  3. A plan to offer alternatives “to the extent possible” to illegal downloading.

Examples of compliance actions include: Cornell UniversityReed College, Linfield College,Bard College,Pomona College,Southwestern University, The University of Kansas, and Purdue University.

The HEOA provisions allow each college and university to interpret what the provisions mean to them, and what copyright education means to them within their own philosophies and goals.  The HEOA may be an opportunity for educational institutions to consider, reconsider, institute and amend current copyright policies and to educate in a broader sense to students, faculty and staff about all uses of all types of copyright materials.

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