Lamar State College – Orange
Compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act
Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Requirements
H.R 4137, the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), is a re-authorization 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.
This document outlines LSC-O’s plan to comply with these requirements.
Consistent with our educational principles, we view education as the most important element in combating illegal sharing of copyrighted materials at LSC-O. We use a wide variety of methods to inform our community about the law and LSC-O’s response to copyright infringement claims:
- In order to use college computing resources, all members of the LSC-O Community endorse a Computer User Agreement that references the Information Resources Use Policy which includes a section on copyright compliance.
- Articles are placed in the LSC-O quarterly newsletter and posters are mounted in student computer labs and elsewhere to discourage illegal file sharing.
- Every fall an email is sent to all students regarding illegal distribution of copyrighted materials.
- Computing support staff, including student Help Desk workers, are regularly trained on the College position with respect to copyright issues. Student workers provide an important channel for communicating with the student community.
- The library staff periodically briefs members of the Student Government Association about copyright, illegal file sharing, and related issues.
- LSC-O‘s policies and procedures concerning the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and our response to infringement claims are published on LSC-O’s web site.
- Periodically, all College employees receive email from the President or other officers regarding copyright infringement and related issues.
Plans to “Effectively Combat” the Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Material
LSC-O has in place a network device capable of identifying certain types of traffic. In support of the Executive Order RP58 from the office of the Governor of Texas (http://governor.state.tx.us/news/executive-order/3630/), a filter was installed blocking the use of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing software. All discovered use of P2P will result in the offending computer being placed in quarantine for a period of fifteen minutes. During this quarantine period the offending computer has no access to the Internet. Any attempt to browse the Internet will result in a message being displayed informing the user of the violation. After the time period expires, traffic from the offending computer is again sampled for P2P violations. If another violation is found the computer is again placed in quarantine. This process is repeated indefinitely until the use of P2P has been discontinued.
The College responds to all Digital Millennium Copyright Act notices according to information published on our web site:
Copyright Infringement Notices
Offering Alternatives to Illegal File Sharing
LSC-O provides a link to the EDUCAUSE list because of its extensive content.
Beginning in 2012-13 and periodically thereafter, we will survey community members to assess the extent to which our anti-piracy messages are reaching them, the extent to which community members are taking advantage of legal alternatives, the impact of our technical efforts to combat illegal file sharing, and other aspects of our plans to combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials.
Note 1: Unless served with a proper subpoena, Lamar State College - Orange will not disclose the name or other identifying information pertaining to an alleged infringing user to copyright holders and/or their agents.
Note 2: Information provided at this web site does NOT constitute legal advice. It is intended for information and educational purposes only. Every situation is unique and you are encouraged to consult an attorney if you need specific legal advice. Neither the downloading of materials nor any communication with respect to this web site constitutes the formation of an attorney-client relationship. In reading this web site, you acknowledge that nothing in the web site is intended to or constitutes the practice of law or the giving of legal advice. Links to attorney-related web sites, such as those provided below, do not constitute an endorsement of any legal services
The College considers unauthorized peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing of copyrighted music and videos to be an inappropriate use of its network resources. Users who engage in copyright infringement using the College’s network risk the loss of network access privileges. Repeat offenders risk additional disciplinary action up to and including expulsion or discharge. Moreover, unauthorized P2P file sharing of copyrighted materials is illegal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and exposes the perpetrator to serious civil and criminal penalties.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and other content owners are aggressively trying to stop unauthorized downloading, copying, and sharing of music and video by college students. They monitor the Internet continually to identify Internet Protocol (IP) addresses engaged in these activities, but they require assistance from the Internet Service Provider (ISP) to communicate with an alleged infringer. They generally seek the ISP’s help in delivering one or more of the following notices of alleged infringement to the ISP’s users.
- DMCA Takedown Notices
- Preservation Requests
- Pre-Litigation Settlement Letters, and
- Subpoenas (in connection with law suits).
Copyright holders can choose to send one or any of these in response to infringing activity they may detect on our network. The notices operate independently and do not necessarily progress from one to another. For example, nothing prevents the initial communication from being a subpoena that seeks the identity of a user connected at a specific IP address at a specific day and time. Below is a summary of each type of notice with information to help you understand the nature of the notice and steps you should consider for each of the notification situations.
When a content owner determines that an IP address has been used to violate its copyright, it sends a Takedown Notice to the applicable Internet Service Provider (ISP) describing the IP address, date, time, and material involved in the alleged infringement. The notice requests that the ISP remove or disable access to the listed material under the terms of the DMCA.
When Lamar State College – Orange receives such a Takedown Notice, it reviews its network activity records to independently validate the legitimacy of the complaint. If the complaint appears valid, the College suspends the offending computer’s network access until the infringing material is removed. First offenders regain network access once proof of removal is provided and an acknowledgement is signed. Repeat offenders are referred to the Vice President of Academic Affairs for further disciplinary action.
The College also notifies the sender of the Notice that a) appropriate removal actions have been taken, or b) the allegation could not be validated through network activity records. The College does not provide any user identifying information to the sender of the Notice unless the Notice is accompanied or followed by a lawfully issued subpoena. Likewise, the College does not forward a copy of the Takedown Notice itself to the alleged infringer.
The College’s practice is to first determine if the information provided in the Request may be sufficient to implicate a specific user. If not, the College notifies the requesting party of its inability to comply. If a specific user is implicated, the College preserves the information as requested and forwards the Request to that user via email. The cover email explains the nature of the Request and encourages the user to preserve evidence relating to the claims in the Request. The cover email also informs the user that they may wish to obtain legal advice before taking any other action. Once again, the College will not release a user’s identifying information in response to a Preservation Request unless and until the Request is accompanied or followed by a lawfully issued subpoena.
Note the stark difference between a Takedown Notice and a Preservation Request. A Takedown Notice specifically requires you to remove allegedly infringing material whereas a Preservation Request seeks the exact opposite – that you do nothing that would remove, alter, or destroy the evidence of infringement on your computer.
For quite some time, the RIAA’s outside legal counsel has been sending "Pre-Litigation Settlement Letters" to many education institutions and other ISP’s. The Settlement Letter is generally sent to the ISP with a request that it be forwarded to the user of a particular IP address. The Letter alleges that the user of that particular IP address has violated copyright laws and presents an opportunity to settle the claim as early as possible at a "significantly reduced amount" compared to the judgment that a court might impose at the end of a lawsuit. The Letter also informs the user to preserve evidence relating to the claims and instructs the user to retain, and not delete, any peer-to-peer programs.
The College’s practice is to forward a Settlement Letter along with an explanation to the alleged infringer if the College’s network activity logs can establish the identity of the person at the specified IP address with a reasonable degree of certainty. Because network log data can be unavailable or inconclusive, the College cannot guarantee that all Settlement Letters will be forwarded to alleged infringers. Individuals should not expect to receive such a letter prior to being sued for copyright infringement.
If you receive a Settlement Letter, you alone are responsible for determining the manner in which you will respond. You are encouraged to seek legal counsel before taking any action. Based on the wording in recent Settlement Letters, recipients must settle with the RIAA within twenty (20) days of the date of the Letter or face a lawsuit (see below).
In cases where no settlement is reached, the RIAA and member companies have been filing lawsuits in Federal District Courts. The suits allege that unnamed individuals have infringed copyrights by downloading and/or distributing copyrighted materials to others over the Internet. After filing these "John Doe" lawsuits (so named because they name IP addresses rather than people), the companies serve subpoenas on educational institutions seeking the identity of the users associated with the IP addresses named in the suits.
When the College receives such a subpoena, the College first ensures that the subpoena is valid and lawful. If so, and if the information sought in the subpoena can be determined, the College is legally required to provide the desired information. The Family and Education Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) affords students limited protection with regard to a subpoena in that an institution served with a lawfully issued subpoena must notify the student of the subpoena in advance of compliance. This allows the student to seek legal advice and/or protection, such as limiting the scope of the subpoena. If the student does not seek or is unsuccessful in obtaining protection from the courts, the College must comply with the subpoena.
If you receive a subpoena, we encourage you to retain your own legal counsel as soon as possible for advice on this matter before you do anything else with your computer's contents. Since the subpoena is not a Takedown Notice, removing the infringing materials is not sufficient, and, in fact, may expose you to additional liability. The University has heard but cannot confirm that companies first use the subpoenaed information to try to settle the matter with the identified individuals, and if settlement is not reached, amend the lawsuits to name the individual students and proceed in court.
State Bar of Texas Lawyer Referral Information Service
Subpoena Defense Alliance
For more specifics about the College’s practices regarding P2P File Sharing of copyrighted materials, see:
Other questions about this message should be directed to:
Department of Information Technology: firstname.lastname@example.org and 409-882-3033