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HEOA P2P Sharing

HEOA Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Requirements

H.R 4137, the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), is a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. The Act includes provisions that are designed to reduce the illegal uploading and downloading of copyrighted works through peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing including:
  • 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.
Education and Annual Disclosure

Cumberland County College uses a variety of methods to educate and inform our community about the law including:
  • The Library web pages host a comprehensive review of copyright requirements.
  • The Cumberland County College’s Technology Acceptable Use Policy requires compliance with copyright laws. The Acceptable Use Policy is displayed on Lab and Library Computers and is posted on this website.
  • Periodic emails to the campus community regarding copyright infringement.
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 especially their FAQ's.

Plans for Combating the Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Material

Cumberland County College currently blocks P2P traffic on its network. Please be reminded that P2P file sharing is illegal and against the Cumberland County College Technology Acceptable Use Agreement. Please visit the Library pages on
 Copyright Policy to learn about using copyrighted materials appropriately.

Alternatives to Illegal File Sharing

Educause maintains a comprehensive list of Legal Downloading Resources. You are encouraged to take advantage of these legitimate sources of digital content.

Reviewing Effectiveness

Since Cumberland County College began blocking P2P traffic we have not received any copyright infringement or takedown notices. We will continue to review our procedures and monitor receipt of infringement notices
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