Higher Education Opportunity Act File Sharing Compliance

File sharing software is most commonly used to download music and other media. Many do not realize that this software may turn your personal computer into a server, or upload site, even if that was not your intent. Files on your network connected PC may then be illegally shared with every other person connected to the World Wide Web. It is imperative that the file sharing capability of these systems be disabled. If you do not know how to disable this function, please contact the Service Desk at 801-863-8888.

Industry representatives aggressively monitor the Internet to discover incidents of illegal file sharing. When violations are discovered, they contact the network owner and/or the Internet Service Provider and demand that the offending device be disconnected from the network. To protect the user and the University from further culpability under federal copyright law or University policy, the University will disable network access for any machine for which a complaint of copyright infringement has been received.

To restore network service, the user must contact the Service Desk and arrange to sign a document stating that the user has disabled the file sharing function of their software and has agreed to discontinue all illegal file sharing activity. If the user is named in additional complaints, they may lose long term access to network service. Students will be referred to the Dean of Students, staff to their Vice President, and Faculty to the Academic Vice President for further review and action.

Action taken by the University to remedy a violation does not preclude the copyright holder from seeking civil and/or criminal prosecution for copyright infringement.  Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or “statutory” damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For “willful” infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys’ fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505. Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.

Students are encouraged to find alternatives to illegal file sharing such as purchasing music, movies, and other copyrighted materials through on-line stores and services.

HEA Illegal File Sharing Compliance Written Plan - 2010-present


This written plan is designed to bring the University into compliance with the illegal file sharing provisions of the Higher Education Opportunity Act/Higher Education Authorization Act (HEA).
Specifically, the act requires Utah Valley University to:

  • Provide an annual disclosure informing students and other computer users of potential civil and criminal penalties; provides a summary of the penalties for violations of federal copyright law; and, a description of the University’s policies with respect to unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, including disciplinary actions.
  • Develop plans to effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including through the use of a variety of technology-based deterrents.
  • To provide or suggest alternatives to illegal file sharing.

The plan for Utah Valley University to meet these requirements is as follows:

  1. An annual disclosure to students, faculty and staff of the institution will be distributed to all the campus community by email and through the UVAnnouncement system. In addition, a digital poster will run for two weeks on the campus digital signage system. The disclosure will include:
    • Unauthorized distribution, including peer-to-peer, may result in civil and criminal liability
    • Summary of Federal penalties for infringement
    • Description of institutional policies including disciplinary actions
    • Suggested alternatives to illegal file sharing (requirement 3).
  2. Posted on the UVU website are the UVU’s policies and information regarding copyright, appropriate use of campus network, DMCA and associated take down procedures and University peer-to-peer consequences and practices.
  3. In additional, when users first connect to the UVU wireless network or to the dial-up modem pool, they will be presented with the information on peer-to-peer with the understanding that using the UVU network requires an agreement that they will abide by policy not to use the network for illegal file sharing.
  4. UVU has implemented technology deterrents through a “Layer 7” firewall capable of detecting and blocking peer-to-peer file sharing. Additionally, UVU has implemented a robust response process when we receive proper notification of a copyright infringement claim.
  5. A new website is to be developed by Fall 2010 to consolidate materials for HEA compliance and add additional educational information regarding peer to peer/illegal file sharing.
  6. Although UVU does not provide a paid alternative to illegal file sharing, the university does encourage students to use legal services to obtain music, movies and other copyrighted materials through legal means. This is done as part of the annual disclosure and will be implemented on the UVU website also.