The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) establishes requirements for institutions of higher education to address the issue of unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material on their networks. These P2P provisions of the HEOA do not change copyright law. Rather, they add a new set of responsibilities that—because the HEOA concerns colleges and universities— do not apply to providers of other networks, such as commercial ISPs.
The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA) (Pub. L. 110-315) added provisions to the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended, requiring institutions to take steps to combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials (e.g., intellectual property, music, videos) through illegal downloading or P2P (peer-to-peer) distribution.
Institutions that participate in the Title IV, HEA programs are required to comply with HEOA requirements in order to continue to be eligible for Title IV participation.
Specifically, HEOA requires institutions to:
- Make an annual disclosure that informs students that the illegal distribution of copyrighted materials may subject them to criminal and civil penalties and describes the steps that institutions will take to detect and punish illegal distribution of copyrighted materials.
- Develop and maintain plans to effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material including the use of one or more technology-based deterrents.
- Offer alternatives to illegal file sharing to the extent practical.
- Identify procedures for periodically reviewing the effectiveness of the plans to combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials.