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Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) Compliance

Last updated January 26, 2018


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.

The information provided here outline's Morningside's plan to comply with these requirements.

What is Copyright Infringement?

To protect students, faculty, and staff, and the College from legal actions, MORNINGSIDE COLLEGE wants to provide a better understanding of the acts that constitute violations of federal copyright law, especially with regard to peer-to-peer networks (P2P). Copyright infringement occurs whenever someone makes a copy of any copyrighted work, such as songs, videos, software, cartoons, photographs, stories, or novels, without permission (i.e., a license) from the copyright owner and without falling within specific exceptions provided for under the copyright laws.

What are the Risks?

Contrary to what many believe, U.S. federal law treats the unauthorized uploading, downloading, or sharing and distribution of copyrighted material as a serious offense that carries serious consequences.

Any MORNINGSIDE COLLEGE network account holder who infringes copyright laws risks a lawsuit by the copyright holder.

In recent years, copyright holders and trade associations - especially the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) have aggressively pursued copyright holders' rights and have been increasingly focused on universities. In some cases, the cost of settlement has ranged from approximately $3000 or more for the initial offense, which may have been no more than a download of a single song.

Annual Disclosures

Consistent with our educational principles, we view education as the most important element in combating illegal sharing of copyrighted materials at Morningside College. We use a wide variety of methods to inform our community about the law and Morningside's response to copyright infringement claims:

  1. In order to use college computing resources, all members of the Morningside College community will endorse a Computer User Agreement that includes a section on copyright compliance.
  2. Posters are being mounted in student computer labs and elsewhere to discourage illegal file sharing.
  3. 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.
  4. Morningside's policies and procedures concerning the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and our response to infringement claims are published on our web site.
  5. Periodically, all College employees will receive email from the President or other officers regarding copyright infringement and related issues.
  6. Language has been added to the Student Handbook outlining the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

File-Sharing Alternatives

Educause maintains a comprehensive list of Legal Downloading Resources.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has tips for How to Not Get Sued for File Sharing (And Other Ideas To Avoid Being Treated Like a Criminal).

Members of the Morningside community are encouraged to learn what they can about protecting their own work and respecting the work of others.