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Higher Education Opportunity Act

Copyright and Peer-to-Peer File-sharing Requirements

H.R. 4137, The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), is designed to reduce the illegal uploading and downloading of copyrighted works through peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing. These provisions include requirements that:

  • Institutions make an annual disclosure to inform students that the illegal distribution of copyrighted materials may subject them to criminal and civil penalties and describes the steps that institutions will take to detect and punish illegal distribution of copyrighted materials.
  • Institutions certify to the Secretary of Education that they have developed plans to “effectively combat” the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material.
  • Institutions, “to the extent practicable,” offer alternatives to illegal file sharing.
  • Institutions identify procedures for periodically reviewing the effectiveness of the plans to combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials.

The Office of Technology Services at the University of Baltimore will comply with HEOA in the following manner.

Annual Disclosure

Consistent with our educational principles, OTS views awareness as the most important element in combating illegal sharing of copyrighted materials at UB. OTS uses a wide variety of methods to inform the UB community of the law and UB’s response to copyright infringement claims:

  • To use OTS resources, all members of the UB community must endorse a Computer User Agreement that includes a section on copyright compliance.
  • UB’s initial emphasis on copyright compliance occurs at new student orientation sessions.
  • Posters in student computer labs and elsewhere discourage illegal file sharing.
  • Computing support staff, including student workers, are regularly trained on the University’s position regarding copyright issues.
  • UB's policies and procedures concerning the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and response to infringement claims are published on UB’s Acceptable Use Policy page.
  • Periodically, all employees will receive e-mail regarding copyright infringement and related issues.

Plans to “Effectively Combat” the Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Material

A core element of academic integrity is the respect for copyright and intellectual property. Users who violate stated policies are first reminded that peer-to-peer file sharing is illegal and against UB’s acceptable use policies.

Our information security staff, in conjunction with the Dean of Students, handles the University's initial response to DMCA violations. Students may lose access to the network until they pay an administrative fee and review online materials explaining copyright rules. The Dean of Students manages subsequent violations. Penalties for repeat offenders may include loss of network access and fees.

Offering Alternatives to Illegal File Sharing

Educause, a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology, maintains a comprehensive list of Legal Downloading Resources. UB encourages members of the campus community to take advantage of these legitimate sources of digital content.

Periodic Review of Plan and Assessment Criteria

  • Office of Technology Services security personnel in conjunction with The Dean of Students reviews the number and severity of alleged DMCA violations regularly to determine if changes in disciplinary procedures or educational materials are needed.
  • Information security staff, under the direction of the Chief Information Officer, review technical deterrents annually to determine if these deterrents remain effective in limiting undesirable traffic.
  • The University's information security staff reviews newly available technology periodically for deployment.

Resources