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Information Technology InfoGuide: File Sharing

File Sharing

Compliance with the HEOA Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Requirements


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 unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material.
  • Institutions, to the extent practicable, offer alternatives to illegal file sharing.

This document outlines Southwestern's plan to comply with these requirements.

Annual Disclosure

Consistent with our educational principles, we view education as the most important element in combating illegal sharing of copyrighted materials at Southwestern. We use a wide variety of methods, including Student, Faculty and Staff Handbooks, Campus Notices and official mailing lists, to inform our community about the law and Southwestern's response to copyright infringement claims:

  • To use college computing resources, all members of the Southwestern Community endorse an Acceptable Use Agreement that includes a section on copyright compliance.
  • Stories are placed in the school newspaper and posters are mounted in student computer labs and elsewhere to discourage illegal file sharing.
  • Computing support staff, including student Help Desk workers, are trained on the University's position with respect to copyright issues. Student workers provide an important channel for communicating with the student community.
  • The computing staff periodically briefs Resident Assistants about copyright, illegal file sharing, and related issues.
  • Southwestern's policies and procedures concerning the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and our response to infringement claims are published on Southwestern's web site.

Plans to Effectively Combat the Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Material

We do not block P2P appllications since much of the traffic is legal.

If we observe continued high bandwidth consumption on Southwestern networks we will contact such users to ensure that their bandwidth consumption is the result of legal activities only.

Students that receive take down notices are placed on mandatory contract probation by the Dean of Students following a meeting with the student, the CIO, and the Dean of Students.

Offering Alternatives to Illegal File Sharing

The Southwestern web site provides links to sites that provide numerous options for obtaining music, videos, and other digital content in a legal manner. The number of legal outlets for media increases each year. Members of the Southwestern community are encouraged to take advantage of these legitimate sources of digital content. The relevant page on the Southwestern web site is at:



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