Get the details on copyright laws and compliance.
Summary of 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 Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at www.copyright.gov, especially their FAQ’s at www.copyright.gov/help/faq.
Enforcement of Copyright Compliance
H.R 4137, the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), is a reauthorization 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 Montreat College’s plan to comply with these requirements. It is based upon Reed College’s participation as a Role Model institution under direction of the HEOA.
Annual Disclosure and Communication of Policies and Procedures
Consistent with our educational principles, we view education as the most important element in combating illegal sharing of copyrighted materials at Montreat College. We use a wide variety of methods to inform our community about the law and Montreat’s response to copyright infringement claims:
- In order to use college computing resources, all members of the Montreat Community endorse a Computer User Agreement that includes a section on copyright compliance.
- All students entering our Traditional four-year program are required to demonstrate computer literacy competence, either through testing or through a course in computer literacy, which includes understanding of copyright law.
- Throughout each year, faculty and staff have the opportunity to participate in training and discussion that highlights copyright concerns and points to further information on our web site and other web sites.
- Every fall we send an email to all students regarding illegal distribution of copyrighted materials that points them to the resources we have on our website.
- Computing support staff, including student workers, are regularly apprised of the College policies for addressing copyright issues.
- Montreat’s policies and procedures concerning the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and our process for response to infringement claims are published on the College web site.
- Periodically, all College employees receive email from the Director of IT or other officers regarding copyright infringement and related issues.
Methods to “Effectively Combat” the Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Material
Montreat College currently uses a Exinda Packet Shaper to throttle and control bandwith usage. Each network connected device has limited bandwidth per day, and when a device exceeds this bandwidth, the device is throttled back more severely. Furthermore, the packet shaper limits specific ports known to be used for illegal file sharing.
When we discover a system using excessive bandwidth, we contact the owner to ensure that the bandwidth consumption is for legal purposes and that the user is aware of the College’s policies concerning illegal file sharing.
The College responds to all Digital Millennium Copyright Act notices according to policies published on our web site.
Offering Alternatives to Illegal File Sharing
The Montreat College web site provides links to sites that provide numerous options for obtaining music, videos, and other digital content in a legal manner. We encourage our community members to take advantage of these legal sources to obtain digital content.
Beginning in 2011-12 we began to conduct an annual awareness survey of community members to assess the effectiveness of our anti-piracy approach, 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.