The United States (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 and Maryville College

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 links below:

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 by the following College policies:

  • Maryville College Network and Computer Use Policy
  • Violations Academic Integrity Policy (Academic Procedures and Regulations, Maryville College Catalog)
  • Computer Misuse Policy (Living in Community, Community Standards, Maryville College Catalog)
  • Maryville College Staff Handbook (Appendix B)
  • Disciplinary Procedures related to these activities are covered in the Maryville College Catalog (Judicial Processes and Student Rights), and Academic Procedures and Regulations, Violations of Academic Integrity Policy – Procedures), as well as the Maryville College Staff Handbook (Progressive Discipline and Appendix A, Guidelines for Conduct). 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 Maryville College 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.


File Sharing Software

Use of peer to peer (P2P) software is not inherently illegal. Several legitimate programs such as the popular game World of Warcraft use P2P technology for distributing files. Users of P2P 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. P2P networks are overwhelmingly the largest source for copyright violating file transfers in the world today.

If you need to download legal material from a P2P source, please contact the Information Technology (IT) Department for assistance.


Tracking File Sharing

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. 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

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

  1. The College sends regular emails (at least annually) to all campus network users to educate them about copyright law and illegal use and distribution of copyrighted works. These messages include references to this document which specifies campus policies dealing with illegal activity and outlines the penalties for copyright infringement that are codified in US law.
  2. The College uses technology-based deterrents as part of our plan to effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials by users of our network. Our network is protected with a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW) with policies in place to evenly distribute bandwidth and limit P2P activity.
  3. IT will acknowledge the receipt of each copyright violation notice it receives, and will endeavor to identify the users of the IP addresses referred to. The copyright infringement notices will be forwarded to any identified users who may face loss of network services and/or other disciplinary action in accordance with College policies.
  4. This web page provides links above to lists maintained by EDUCAUSE, the RIAA, and the MPAA of legal video and music sources.
  5. The College's Director of Information Technology will undertake an 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.