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Peer to Peer File Sharing and Copyright Infringement Policy

I. OVERVIEW

HEOA regulations require institutions to take steps to stem the spread of peer-to-peer file sharing and the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material on their networks. EIIA member institutions seeking continued eligibility for Title IV funds through the U.S. Department of Education must ensure that they are in compliance with these new regulations. To comply with the HEOA provisions relating to unauthorized file sharing on campus networks and the new accompanying regulations, institutions must meet three general requirements. Below is Alaska Pacific University’s policy to address these regulations. The term user(s) is inclusive of users, faculty, staff and any other individuals connected to APU information technology systems.

II. REQUIREMENT ONE: ANNUAL DISCLOSURE

Alaska Pacific University will make an annual disclosure to users describing copyright law and campus policies related to violations of copyright law. Specifically, this disclosure will include a statement that explicitly informs its users that unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject the users to institutional, civil and criminal liabilities. This notice will include a summary of the civil and criminal penalties for violation of Federal copyright laws and a description of the institution’s policies with respect to unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, including disciplinary actions that will be taken against users who engage in illegal downloading or unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials using the institution’s information technology system. (See Appendix A).

III. REQUIREMENT TWO: WRITTEN PLAN TO COMBAT COPYRIGHT ABUSE

Alaska Pacific University is developing and implementing: 1) a written plan to effectively combat on-campus network copyright abuse that includes the use of “one or more technology-based deterrents,” 2) mechanisms for educating and informing our community about the appropriate use of copyrighted material, and 3) procedures for handling unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material.  In addition, this plan shall be reviewed annually using relevant assessment criteria.  The review committee will consist of the Technology Assessment Committee as defined in the Faculty Handbook.  The university will announce the results of these assessments to the entire campus community.

Alaska Pacific University will implement the technology-based deterrents to include bandwidth shaping and traffic monitoring devices.

IV. REQUIREMENT THREE: ALTERNATIVES TO ILLEGAL DOWNLOADING

Alaska Pacific University will publish a list of legitimate download services that serve as legal alternatives to illegal downloading.  This will be published periodically (at least once per semester – 3 times a year) to avail users of the most recent listings of legal alternatives available at the time of publication. (See Appendix C).

V. APPENDIX A: ANNUAL DISCLOSURE TO USERS DESCRIBING COPYRIGHT LAW AND CAMPUS POLICIES RELATED TO VIOLATIONS OF COPYRIGHT LAW

It is the policy of the Alaska Pacific University that users are prohibited from using Alaska Pacific University’s information systems to illegally download or share copyrighted materials, including but not limited to images, music, games, movies and videos. Such activity is illegal and may subject users to a variety of serious penalties. It may also inadvertently expose confidential information and/or make computers insecure.

A. ILLEGAL DOWNLOADING IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED

Unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, is against the law and may subject users to civil and criminal liabilities. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file sharing refers to the use of software that allows computer users to connect in to a P2P network to search for shared files on the computers of other users (the “peers”) connected to the network.

B. CIVIL AND CRIMINAL PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING 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 web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at www.copyright.gov, especially the Frequently Asked Questions section at www.copyright.gov/help/faq.

C. SUMMARY OF ALASKA PACIFIC UNIVERISTY”S POLICIES REGARDING UNAUTHORIZED P2P FILE SHARING

While there are some legal uses of peer-to-peer file sharing programs, using these programs to download or upload copyrighted material without authorization is against federal law and Alaska Pacific University policy. Under Alaska Pacific University’s policy, individuals who engage in unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material using Alaska Pacific University’s computer network will be subject to discipline, up to and including suspension, expulsion, dismissal or other disciplinary procedures. Alaska Pacific University monitors network traffic volumes and has systems in place to enforce this policy.

If user’s computer contains illegal files or file-sharing software, the APU Information Technology Helpdesk will not provide users with support services of any kind. If a computer is detected engaging in illegal file sharing, the user’s connection to the Alaska Pacific University’s computer network will be immediately terminated. Before users’ connections can be restored, users will be required to read and sign an agreement stating that users have removed the offending files and software from users computer and that users will no longer engage in the illegal downloading and sharing of copyrighted material. Repeat offenders may be permanently removed from the network and referred to Alaska Pacific University’s disciplinary processes and may be placed on disciplinary probation, up to and including suspension, expulsion, dismissal or other disciplinary procedures. If appropriate, users may also be reported to the police or other government officials.

Additionally, Alaska Pacific University cannot protect users from copyright complaints. Alaska Pacific University may be required by law to disclose information about network users to a complainant for use in pursuing legal action against users. When Alaska Pacific University receives a copyright infringement notice from copyright holders or their attorneys, it takes the following steps pursuant to the 1998 federal statute known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA):

  1. As the Internet service provider for users, Alaska Pacific University first checks network usage logs and registration information to examine the system alleged to be involved in copyright infringement, identify the user, and independently validate the legitimacy of the notice; and
  2. If the notice appears valid, Alaska Pacific University then suspends the offending user’s network access and notifies the user that a DMCA infringement claim has been made. Though these DMCA copyright infringement notices serve as warnings rather than legal action, the copyright holders still maintain the right to pursue legal action against a user who commits copyright infringement.

If users have questions about P2P applications or wish to remove file-sharing software from users computer, please contact the APU Information Technology Helpdesk .

 

VI. APPENDIX B: A WRITTEN PLAN TO DETER ON-CAMPUS NETWORK COPYRIGHT ABUSE

When Alaska Pacific University receives a notice alleging an unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, it reviews its network activity records to validate the legitimacy of the notice. If the notice appears valid, the institution suspends the offending computer’s network access until the infringing material is removed or justification for a counter notice is provided. First offenders regain network access once proof of removal is provided and an acknowledgement is signed. Repeat offenders are referred to Alaska Pacific University’s disciplinary procedures for additional sanctions, up to and including expulsion or dismissal from Alaska Pacific University. Alaska Pacific University also notifies the DMCA agent that a) appropriate removal actions have been taken, or b) the allegation could not be validated through network activity records. Alaska Pacific University does not provide any user identifying information to the DMCA agent unless the notice is accompanied or followed by a lawfully issued subpoena. Likewise, Alaska Pacific University does not forward a copy of the takedown notice itself to the alleged infringer.

A. PERIODIC REVIEW

APU will review the plan no less than annually. Modifications to the policy will be based on data and experiences collected throughout the year as well as relevant changes to technology and best practices.

VII. APPENDIX C: SAMPLE LIST OF LEGAL ALTERNATIVES TO ILLEGAL DOWNLOADING

Alaska Pacific University encourages users to fully participate in the Internet experience and in the free exercise of individual rights and academic freedoms while at the same time complying with all laws and University policies governing the downloading and sharing of copyrighted material. As alternatives to illegal downloading, there are several legitimate download services available for use. The list of legitimate media services includes the following:

Amazon

Apple iTunes

Hulu

Pandora

Netflix