University of Maryland Compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act

Introduction

This summary covers the University of Maryland's compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA), sections 668.14 and 668.43, commonly referred to as the peer-to-peer(P2P) provision.

The University of Maryland employs a multi-faceted approach to effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material by users of the institution's network. The components of the approach are:

Technological Deterrents

Three technology-based deterrents are in place.

  1. Traffic-shaping technology controls network traffic and restricts bandwidth usage on the university's connections to the Internet. Peer-to-peer file sharing applications are assigned lowest priority and further limiting of outbound P2P traffic reduces external downloads from our network.
  2. Since October 2007, we have blocked network connections from use of ARES and LimeWire P2P file-sharing applications.
  3. Finally, we accept and respond to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices directed to the agent designated to receive notifications of claimed infringement at the advertised address of nethics@umd.edu. The agent notifies the user allegedly responsible for the complaint. The notice conveys expectations for compliance, and includes information on the consequences of unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material. Repeat offenses are referred to the Office of Student Conduct.

 

Education

Multiple mechanisms, available on an ongoing basis, are in place for educating and informing the community about unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material. They include:

  • A regularly-distributed letter to the university community, available on Division of IT's website, jointly authored by the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, and Vice President of Information Technology about the risks and legal issues surrounding copyright infringing file sharing.
  • Users of the student residential network, when registering for an IP address, click through a series of screens detailing prohibited conduct. The copyright-specific language, from the Student Guidelines for Network Computer Use, is as follows:

    "Users of the Campus Data Network must also read and agree to the university's Acceptable Use Policy. As stated in the acceptable use policy, resident students may not use their network connection to receive or distribute copyrighted material without permission, including the unauthorized storage or distribution of software, motion pictures, videos, and music."

  • A description of the institution's policies on 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 can be found on the Copyright Infringing File Sharing page.
  • The New Student Edition of TechKnow (PDF), a newsletter distributed annually to incoming students via the orientation program and to students living in residence halls, addresses the policy prohibiting copyright infringement; regular issues of the newsletter also cover aspects of inappropriate use of copyrighted material.
  • "Bet on a Sure Thing" is an educational video produced by the Division of Information Technology about copyright infringement, and it is available on YouTube and on the Division of Information Technology's Facebook page.
  • PlayFair is an awareness campaign designed to encourage University of Maryland students to think twice before acquiring or distributing copyrighted material in an unauthorized manner. Developed and launched by the Division of Information Technology Communications and Marketing and Project NEThicssm units, PlayFair incorporates posters, ads, a website, and a variety of other campaign materials to spread the word about legal alternatives to online piracy. The campaign has two main goals:
    1. Promoting awareness and encouraging use of legal alternatives to illegal downloading, uploading, and file sharing.
    2. Educating students about the consequences of online piracy.
  • A poster series distributed to residence halls, computer labs, and university libraries is available at PlayFair's Campaign Materials page.
  • Attractive giveaway items and literature on unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material and other topics related to acceptable use of information technology are regularly distributed at information tabling events throughout the academic year including the orientation program for incoming students, the "Protect Your Shell Fair" event on safety issues during new resident welcome week, and the First Look Fair, a festive two-day information fair on involvement opportunities and university departments.

Legal programs

Lists of legal sources of online content for downloading or otherwise acquiring copyrighted material are available via the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), EDUCAUSE, and Division of IT's page of legal service options. The summary is generated as part of an ongoing review process of legal alternatives conducted by Project NEThics of the Division of Information Technology.

The university was one of the piloting institutions in sponsoring music subscription services (first CTrax and then Ruckus) from March 2005 through February 2009. As new services become available, they will be evaluated by Division of IT with representatives from student legislative bodies (Student Government Association, Residence Halls Association) to determine the programs and funding plans that best address student needs.

Review

Annually the Division of Information Technology Security and Policy Office will convene a meeting to review the effectiveness of the plans to combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials. Meeting participants will include the Director of IT Security and Policy; the Coordinator of Project NEThics (who is the DMCA agent); counsel from the Office of Legal Affairs; and a staff member of the Office of Student Conduct.

Consumer Information

  1. The required statement "Unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject the student user to civil and criminal liabilities" has been added to Student Guidelines for Network Computer Use following the existing language: "Users of the Campus Data Network must also read and agree to the university's Acceptable Use Policy. As stated in the Acceptable Use Policy, resident students may not use their network connection to receive or distribute copyrighted material without permission, including the unauthorized storage or distribution of software, motion pictures, videos, and music."
  2. The sample "Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws," is provided on the Copyright Infringing File Sharing page.
  3. For 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, see: Copyright Infringing File Sharing.