HEOA & Copyright

HEOA & Copyright

The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008 was signed into law by President George W. Bush in August 2008. Proposed regulations were issued by the Department of Education in August 2009, and final regulations were issued in October 2009. Several sections of the HEOA deal with unauthorized file sharing on campus networks, imposing three general requirements on all U.S. colleges and universities:

  • An annual disclosure to students describing copyright law and campus policies related to violating copyright law.
  • A plan to "effectively combat" copyright abuse on the campus network using a "variety of technology-based deterrents."
  • Agreement to "offer alternatives to illegal downloading."

CSUDH is taking these steps to comply with HEOA:

  • A statement explicitly informing students that unauthorized distribution of copyright material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject the students to civil and criminal liabilities is sent to all student e-mail accounts annually on  September 1;
  • Copyright training is offered to students, faculty, and staff each semester.

To read about technology-based deterrents at CSUDH, see File Sharing.

To view alternatives to illegal downloading, see Legal Sources of Online Content, provided by Educause.

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 website of the U.S. Copyright Office at www.copyright.gov, especially their FAQ at www.copyright.gov/help/faq.