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Higher Education Opportunity Act - Disclosure & Penalties

Last reviewed: August 30, 2010 | Last updated: August 30, 2010 | Next review cycle: August 30, 2011

Each campus must distribute three pieces of information related to copyright policy and law:

i) A statement that explicitly informs its students that unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject the students to civil and criminal liabilities;

ii) A summary of the penalties for violation of Federal copyright laws; and

iii) A description of the institution's policies with respect to unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, including disciplinary actions that are taken against students who engage in illegal downloading or unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials using the institution's information technology system.

The following sections cover the above criteria.

Annual Disclosure

Definition of copyright infringement

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.

Summary of penalties

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.

Source: Educause HEOA resources

Columbus State's policy on copyright infringement

In accordance with approved CSCC policy 15-01, section F(1), all users of college computing resources must:

"Comply with all federal, state, and other applicable laws; all generally applicable college rules and policies; and all applicable contracts and licenses. Examples of such laws, rules, policies, contracts, and licenses include, but are not limited to, the laws of libel, privacy, copyright, trademark, obscenity, and child pornography; the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which prohibit "hacking", "cracking", and similar activities; the college's code of student conduct; the college's sexual harassment policy; and all applicable software licenses. Users who engage in electronic communications with persons in other states or countries or on other systems or networks should be aware that they may also be subject to the laws of those other states and countries and the rules and policies of those other systems and networks. Users are responsible for ascertaining, understanding, and complying with the laws, rules, policies, contracts, and licenses applicable to their particular uses."

Individuals who fail to comply with CSCC policy 15-01 and the HEOA Act are subject to misconduct proceedings as defined in CSCC policy 7-10 "Student Code of Conduct" and CSCC policy 3-32 "Disciplinary Action" (for employees).

If you have any questions regarding copyright infringement, please contact
Bruce Massis, Director of CSCC's Educational Resources.