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Copyright Protection

The US congress has revised the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) to address copyright protection. Title IV now stipulates that all US colleges and universities must provide: 

  • An annual disclosure to students describing copyright law and campus policies related to violating copyright law.

  • A plan to "effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials" by users of its network, including "the use of one or more technology-based deterrents".

  • A plan to "offer alternatives to illegal downloading".


Copyright law protects against unauthorized duplication and distribution of works. There are also rules for “Fair Use” of copyrighted works. Specifics can be found at the US Copyright Office:


Copyrighted works can be acquired and distributed over computer networks, however it is illegal to download or distribute these works without authorization from the owner. Such activities are prohibited. All campus users acknowledge this policy when they begin employment or connect their personal computer equipment on the network.  Loss of campus network access and/or disciplinary actions as specified in the college catalog and/or staff handbook may result from continued illegal activity by members of the college community. Every user is responsible for his or her own compliance with the law. Using the AMU network does not in any way shield you from potential law enforcement actions; users who download or distribute copyrighted works may face civil or criminal penalties in addition to sanctions based on college policy.


Penalties for Copyright Violation. Copyright penalties are “not less than $750 or more than $30,000” per infringing work according, however if the copyright owner can establish that the violation was “willful” the penalty can be $150,000 per work. (US Code Title 17 Chapter 5 Section 504: The US No Electronic Theft Act also provides avenues for criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense. (See


Use of peer to peer software is not inherently illegal.  Users of peer to peer networks need to understand, however, that they bear the responsibility of ensuring the legality and copyright standards of every file they download or share on these networks. Peer to peer networks are overwhelmingly the number one source for copyright violating file transfers.

Internet communication is not anonymous: Every packet of data sent or received includes the source and destination IP addresses of the computers sending the traffic. Moreover, these globally unique addresses are registered to their providers, as this is necessary for routing data. Also, P2P client software must advertise the files it has to share, or else the P2P network would not function. Therefore, major producers of copyrighted works hire companies to track file sharing, which they can do easily by using the same P2P software as everyone else. If a peer is found to be sharing (distributing) or offering to share copyright-infringing content, the agents send violation notices to the infringer's Internet service provider The IT department occasionally receives notices of copyright infringement, and we are required by HEOA regulations and Federal law to take action on these notices. IT will attempt to find the user who had use of the IP address in question, and to forward the copyright violation notice to the user.

Note that the college does not provide any network access to these copyright enforcement agents; any evidence of file sharing they detect is publicly available on the internet. We will not release any user information or network logs to such agents unless required by subpoena or other legal means.


Legal Sources for Music and Video


HEOA Compliance Statement

AMU has implemented the following plan for compliance with the file sharing and copyright protection provisions of HEOA: 

  1. The college sends annual emails to all students network users to educate our users about copyright law and illegal use and distribution of copyrighted works. These messages include references to this web page, which specifies campus policies dealing with illegal activity, and outlines the penalties for copyright infringement that are codified in US law.

  2. This page provides links above to lists maintained by EDUCAUSE, the RIAA, and the MPAA of legal video and music sources.

  3. The college's Academic Vice-President will undertake an bi-annual audit to assure the effectiveness of our technical deterrents and our compliance with the requirements of HEOA that pertain to Copyright and File Sharing.

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