Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA)

Compliance with the 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. These provisions include requirements that:

  • Institutions make an annual disclosure that informs 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.  

Annual Disclosure

  • In order to use university computing resources, users must agree to PS-107 Computer Users' Responsibility Policy.  All users are required to annually register his / her computer and agree to the Computer Usage Policy.
  • LSU's policies and procedures concerning the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and our response to infringement claims are published on the IT Security and Policy Office’s web site.

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

LSU is effectively combating unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material by fining students implicated in a verified DMCA copyright violation.  The $50 fine provides a mechanism for recovering costs incurred in reviewing and processing DMCA notifications, and funding programs for awareness (e.g., education and ad campaign costs).  LSU also uses network packet filtering technology to filter out most P2P traffic on campus.

Alternatives to Illegal File Sharing

Educause maintains a comprehensive list of Legal Downloading Resources. Members of the LSU community are encouraged to take advantage of these legitimate sources of digital content.

Reviewing Effectiveness

We will continue to monitor these notices to watch for unexpected increases that would require additional measures.

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 www.copyright.gov, especially their FAQ's at www.copyright.gov/help/faq.