Compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Requirements


The final regulations for implementing the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008 include provisions designed to reduce the illegal sharing of copyrighted works through peer-to-peer file sharing. This document describes Willamette University’s plan to comply with the four relevant provisions of the act:

  • Informing and educating the community about appropriate versus inappropriate use of copyrighted material
  • Using technology-based deterrents to illegal file sharing
  • Implementing procedures for handling unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material
  • Implementing procedures for periodically reviewing the effectiveness of the plan

Annual Disclosure and Education

Educating the Willamette community is the cornerstone of Willamette’s plan to combat illegal sharing of copyrighted materials. We use a variety of methods to inform faculty, students and staff about the law and the University’s response to claims of copyright infringement:

  • All faculty, staff and students must agree to the University Responsible Use Policy that contains a section on copyright compliance before they are granted access to University computing resources.
  • Anyone who wishes to connect a non-University owned computer to the campus network (wired or wireless) must agree to the University Peer-to-Peer File Sharing policy as part of the registration process. Students must re-register every year.
  • Posters designed to highlight the issues surrounding illegal file sharing are mounted in the computer labs and residence halls.
  • Computing support staff, including Help Desk student assistants, are trained about the University policies regarding the use of copyrighted material. Student workers are encouraged to take advantage of “teachable moments” when they are assisting students at the Help Desk.
  • An annual mailing is sent to faculty and staff regarding illegal peer-to-peer file sharing
  • University policies and procedures concerning the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, the response to infringement claims and a summary of civil and criminal penalties for violation of federal copyright laws are published on the University web site.
  • The Willamette web site provides links to sites that community members can use to legally obtain music, videos and other digital content. This site also provides a link to the Educause “Legal Sources of Online Content” web site.

Plans to “Effectively Combat Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Material

Willamette University uses a Bluecoat PacketShaper 7500 that allows us to:

  1. identify likely peer-to-peer traffic and limit the amount of bandwidth consumed by those transactions and
  2. measure the aggregated bandwidth usage of all IP addresses registered to each individual and limit the bandwidth available to each devices when an individual's bandwidth quota is exceeded

Because network bandwidth is a shared University resource, any user who exceeds the bandwidth threshold is contacted by email. Student accounts are put on bandwidth restriction (adequate for most academic requirements but not for streaming video, for example) for 24 hours.

Implementing Procedures for Handling Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Material

Willamette responds to all Digital Millennium Copyright Act notices according to policies published here.

Reviewing the Plan

The volume of DMCA notices and internal bandwidth restriction notices will provide a very rough indication of the effectiveness of this plan. Beginning in the 2012-13 academic year, the Director of WITS and the Director of User Services will design an instrument to survey community members to assess the impact of the technical efforts to combat illegal file sharing, the reach of the educational messages and the extent to which legal alternatives to file sharing are being employed.

Individual elements of the plan, such as the legal alternatives web site, will be maintained by the User Services group and the Help Desk student assistants.