The U.S. Higher Education Opportunity Act makes it illegal to upload and download copyrighted works through peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing.
Merrimack College has implemented the following plan to comply with the file-sharing and copyright-protection provisions of the act:
The college sends a regular email (at least annually) to all students detailing institutional policies and sanctions related to copyright infringement, including:
- A statement that explicitly informs its students that unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject the students to civil and criminal liabilities.
- A summary of the penalties for violation of federal copyright laws.
- A description of the institution’s policies with respect to unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, including disciplinary actions that are taken against students who engage in illegal downloading or unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials using the institution’s information technology system.
This information is available to prospective students upon request.
The college plan to effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material by users of the college’s network, without unduly interfering with educational and research use of the network, includes:
- A vigorous program of accepting and responding to Digital Millennium Copyright Act notices.
- An annual email to all users designed to educate and inform the community about appropriate versus inappropriate use of copyrighted material.
- Procedures for handling unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including disciplinary procedures.
- An annual effectiveness review by the designated agent based on relevant assessment criteria.
The designated agent will periodically review the legal alternatives for downloading or otherwise acquiring copyrighted material and make them available below:
As of September 2015, the designated agent has found that legal alternatives for downloading or otherwise acquiring copyrighted material include, but are not limited to:
- Purchasing the material via brick-and mortar-outlets, e.g., Wal-Mart and Best Buy.
- Purchasing the material via online outlets such as walmart.com and bestbuy.com.
- Meta sources such as www.educause.edu/legalcontent.
Given the relative ease of legally acquiring copyrighted material, the college does not deem it practical to provide a competing alternative.