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Business and Policy Areas
Business and Policy Areas

ED Reminds Institutions of Illegal File Sharing Requirements

June 7, 2010

A June 4 "Dear Colleague" letter from the Department of Education reminded institutions of their responsibilities for combating unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material through college networks. Although provisions on copyright infringement in the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) took effect when the law was signed in August 2008, new regulations take effect July 1 implementing those provisions and provide more guidance to colleges and universities on steps they need to take to discourage peer-to-peer file sharing and illegal downloading.

In addition to a brief overview of the regulatory requirements, the Dear Colleague letter provides sample language that institutions may use to fulfill the requirement to provide students with a summary of the civil and criminal penalties for violation of federal copyright laws. It also provides a discussion of how an institution might meet the statutory requirement to periodically evaluate the effectiveness of its efforts to combat copyright infringement.

Additional Resources

EDUCAUSE maintains a library of resources on the HEOA provisions and peer-to-peer file sharing, including comprehensive lists of legal alternatives.


Anne Gross
Vice President, Regulatory Affairs