Compliance with Higher Education Act Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Requirements

H.R 4137, the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), is a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. It includes provisions that are designed to reduce the illegal uploading and downloading of copyrighted works through peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing.

This Act Requires that St. Lawrence:

  1. Provide an annual disclosure to students describing copyright laws and campus policies related to violating copyright law
  2. Effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials
  3. Provide students with alternatives to illegal file sharing
  4. Periodically review the effectiveness of combating unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material

Annual Disclosure

St. Lawrence uses the following measure to educate our user community about copyright and

  • All students are required to comply with the University Acceptable Use Policy which requires that all users recognize and honor the intellectual property rights of others, including copyright on software, music, video, text, pictures and graphics.
  • Information Technology provides the following annual disclosure to all students and staff:

Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws:

Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement.

Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or "statutory" damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For "willful" infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.

Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.

For more information, please see the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at, especially their FAQ's at (Source:

Summary of St Lawrence's penalties for illegal distribution of copyrighted material

  1. First Offense - Network access will be disabled. Student must bring their computer to IT and remove the material in question and the program used to obtain that material. Once completed, network access will be restored
  2. Second Offense - Network access may be disabled for a period of up to 2 weeks depending on nature of situation
  3. Third Offense - Information Technology will turn information over to the student judiciary board to seek appropriate penalties

How St. Lawrence "effectively combats" the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials

  1. St. Lawrence deploys a Net-Enforcer to shape bandwidth and primarily targets the prevention of peer-to-peer file sharing.
  2. Bandwidth utilization is reviewed regularly for effectiveness against illegal file sharing.

Alternatives to Illegal File Sharing

St. Lawrence recommends the use of Educause's Legal Sources of Online Content page ( as a resource for legal options for downloading music, video and other digital content.

Periodic Review

St. Lawrence periodically reviews the options for legal downloading of music, video and other digital content. We also review the effectiveness of our technological methods for limiting unauthorized distribution of digital content.

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Article ID: 84907
Wed 8/14/19 1:48 PM
Wed 8/14/19 2:06 PM