Copyright Infringement and Peer-to-Peer File Sharing

Introduction

The Peer-to-Peer (P2P) provision of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2009 states that all colleges and universities must deploy a plan to effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials.

Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights of 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 attorney’s fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.

Willful copyright infringements 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.

Violation of Copyright

When Biola University receives a copyright infringement notice, the Information Technology department (IT) investigates Biola’s network records and documents the findings. If the notice is valid, and IT can identify the computer named in the notice and the person associated with the computer, IT contacts this person and requests and confirms that the material named in the notice is removed.

For students, repeat offenses for copyright infringement are handled by the Office of Student Development or, in the case of a graduate student, the student’s respective school, which will follow the disciplinary process described in that student’s respective Student Handbook.

For employees, repeat offenses for copyright infringement are handled by the employee’s supervisor and the Office of Human Resources. The disciplinary process for employees is found in Section 3.4 “Corrective action” in the Employee Handbook.

Technology-Based Deterrents

Biola University uses multiple technologies to manage our network traffic, including firewalls, network traffic shaping tools, and web filtering tools. The combination of these solutions, while not perfect, does effectively detect, monitor, limit, and block P2Ptraffic. If you think the University is blocking legitimate network traffic, please contact the IT Helpdesk using one of the methods listed in the sidebar to the left.

Legal Alternatives

A current list of legal file-sharing alternatives is maintained by EDUCAUSE. (http://www.educause.edu/legalcontent)

Biola University’s Network Usage Policy states that users of Biola’s network are expected to act in a lawful and ethical manner that is consistent with Biola’s Standard of Conduct.

Biola reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

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