Institutional Requirements for Combating the Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Materials by Users of the Institution’s Network
(aka: illegal file sharing on campus networks)
Provisions and the College of Wooster’s Compliance Plan
The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA) includes requirements intended to reduce illegal sharing of electronic copyrighted works via campus networks. These requirements are applicable to all U.S. colleges and university that receive Title IV or other federal funds. The requirements are:
- An annual disclosure to each and every student describing copyright law and campus policies related to violating copyright law. The disclosure, which must be provided to each student individually, must include:
- A statement that explicitly informs its students that unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject the students to civil and criminal liabilities;
- A summary of the penalties for violation of Federal copyright laws (provided by the U.S. Department of Education); and
- A description of the institution’s policies with respect to unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, including disciplinary actions that are taken against students who engage in illegal downloading or unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials using the institution’s information technology system.
- A plan to “effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials” by users of its network, which includes
- “the use of one or more technology-based deterrents:”
- Bandwidth shaping
- Traffic monitoring to identify the largest bandwidth users
- A vigorous program of accepting and responding to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices
- A variety of commercial products designed to reduce or block illegal file sharing
(the Department of Education considers these categories are equally valid in meeting the requirement to use one or more technology-based deterrents),
- Procedures to address claims of unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials, and
- Educational/informational approaches;
- “the use of one or more technology-based deterrents:”
- A plan to “offer alternatives to illegal downloading” “to the extent practicable”
- A procedure to periodically review the effectiveness of the institution’s compliance plan; and
- Institutional certification to the Secretary of Education that the institution has developed plans to “effectively combat” the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material.
The College of Wooster’s Compliance Plan
I. The Annual Disclosure
On the first day of each of the fall and spring semesters, the Dean of Students and the Chief Information & Planning Officer will send a co-authored e-mail notification to all currently enrolled students which:
- Informs Wooster students that unauthorized acquisition and distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized file sharing and attempts to modify College systems to permit such activities, are considered a violation of The Wooster Ethic and will subject the students to College judicial procedures. In addition, such unauthorized acquisition and distribution of copyrighted materials may subject them to civil and criminal liabilities;
- provides students with a summary of the penalties for violation of Federal copyright laws (as recommended and with language provided by the U.S. Department of Education); and
- briefly describes and refers students to Wooster’s policies with respect to unauthorized acquisition and distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized file sharing and attempts to modify College systems to permit such activities. A brief description of the range of College disciplinary actions will be included.
As the provisions of our policy apply to faculty and staff as well, a reminder of our policy will be posted in our daily campus e-newsletter (“Wooster Headline News”) with appropriate links to the policy on our website.
II. A Plan to “Effectively Combat the Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Materials” by Users of Its Network
The College of Wooster currently deploys a network management appliance. While the primary use of the the appliance is to balance our network traffic to ensure that priority is given to applications and uses that are consistent with our educational mission, we permit legal music and media sharing protocols. We discard all traffic for services typically used for illegal music, media and file sharing. .
Like other colleges, we have the ability to limit the number of simultaneous traffic flows from our network equipment across campus, if needed. We also employ security features on our virtual networks that stop or block known vulnerabilities or potentially problematic protocols. Should we discover a user or College system using excessive bandwidth, we contact the user or examine the College system to ensure that the bandwidth consumption is for legal purposes and that the user is aware of Wooster’s policies concerning illegal file sharing.
Procedures to address claims of unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials:
The College’s Chief Information & Planning Officer, upon receipt of a Digital Millennium Copyright Act notice from the Secretary of the College, initiates the process to investigate the claims asserted in the notice, and works in partnership with the Dean of Students (for students) or other appropriate senior staff member (for faculty and staff) to notify the alleged offender of receipt of the DCMA notice and commence the appropriate action steps based on the nature of the DCMA notice or RIAA letter received.
Educational & Informational Approaches:
The College of Wooster’s Educational Technology group has compiled a useful “first-resource” for faculty, students, and staff on copyright policies, practices, and issues. In addition, the College’s Web Communications group provides guidance on the use of copyrighted materials in websites:
III. Legal Alternatives
As noted, the College’s technology-based approaches permit legal music and media sharing protocols. While the College does not necessarily endorse any specific services, we provide a link to Educause’s “Legal Sources of On-Line Content” (http://www.educause.edu/legalcontent) listing as a resource for students, faculty, and staff to find legal download services for music and other media.
IV. Periodic Review of this Plan
The Department of Education regulations specify that a College’s plan must also be “periodically reviewed” using “relevant assessment criteria” chosen by the institution. Per the Department of Education, “Each institution retains the authority to determine what its particular plans for compliance…will be.”
The College will review its plan and related policies and procedures annually. The Chief Information & Planning Officer and Dean of Students will be responsible for this periodic assessment. The objective of our assessment is to determine the overall effectiveness of this plan and our policies and procedures. Some of the elements of our assessment will likely include:
- Network traffic monitoring data to assess the impact of our technical efforts to combat illegal file sharing (source: Information Technology, Systems & Networks)
- Number and nature of DCMA notices received (source: Chief Information & Planning Officer)
- Surveys designed to assess policy awareness
- Surveys designed to assess the extent to which legal alternatives are used
Results of our assessment will inform revisions to our plan, policies, and procedures. In accord with the requirements of the U.S. Department of Education, we will provide the results of our review, and actions taken, if any, to our campus community though the Information Technology website.
V. Institutional Certification to the Secretary of Education
The College of Wooster will provide such certification as part of its review and submittal of its Title IV Program Participation Agreement.
Ellen F. Falduto
Chief Information & Planning Officer
29 June 2010
reviewed: 26 August 2011; 25 August 2012; 24 August 2013; 24 August 2014
revised: 24 August 2015