Effective July 1, 2010, as laid out by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (PL 110-315), any educational institution that accepts federal student financial aid (Title IV HEA programs) must have developed and implemented a written plan to address the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials by the users of the institution’s network.
Each plan must include one or more technology-based deterrents, an educational component to teach users about the proper use of copyrighted material, a process for handling the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials and procedures for a periodic self-review to determine the effectiveness of the school’s anti-content theft strategy.
The technology-based deterrents may include bandwidth shaping, traffic monitoring, accepting and responding to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices and commercial products designed to reduce or block illegal file sharing.
The educational component is meant to discourage users from perpetrating content theft. Each institution must offer legal alternatives to illegal downloading and circulate these alternatives to its students. Upon request, an institution must include information regarding institutional policies and sanctions related to copyright infringement to prospective and enrolled students. This information must explicitly inform students of the civil and criminal liabilities and disciplinary action risked in engaging in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials, including peer-to-peer file sharing, with a summary of penalties for the violation of federal copyright laws.
The self-review process may include a review of whether the institution is following best practices, as laid out between copyright owners and institutions, as well as a more outcome-based evaluation of indicators that an institution’s plan is working. Such indicators might include a "before and after" comparison of bandwidth used for peer-to-peer applications and reductions in the number of electronic infringement notices received from rights holders. Ultimately, it is up to each institution to consider how best to confront the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials on the institution’s networks.
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