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Peer-to-Peer Policy

Compliance with the HEOA Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Policy


H.R 4137, the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), is a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. It includes provisions that are designed to reduce the illegal uploading and downloading of copyrighted works through peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing. These provisions include requirements that:

  • Institutions 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.
  • Institutions certify to the Secretary of Education that they have developed plans to “effectively combat” the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material.
  • Institutions, “to the extent practicable,” offer alternatives to illegal file sharing.
  • This document outlines St. John’s Colleges policy to comply with these requirements.

Annual Disclosure

Consistent with our educational principles, we view education as the most important element in combating illegal sharing of copyrighted materials at St. John’s College. We use a wide variety of methods to inform our community about the law and St. John’s College’s response to copyright infringement claims:

  • In order to use college computing resources, all members of the St. John’s College Community endorse the Appropriate Use Policy that includes a section on copyright compliance.
  • All entering students are required to read the Appropriate Use Policy and sign a card that they have read and understand the policy and will abide by it.
  • Stories are placed in the school newspaper and posters are mounted in student computer labs and elsewhere to discourage illegal file sharing.
  • Beginning fall 2010, the Assistant Dean’s Office will send an email to all students regarding illegal distribution of copyrighted materials.
  • Computing support staffs, including student Help Desk workers, are regularly trained on the College position with respect to copyright issues. Student workers provide an important channel for communicating with the student community.
  • St. John’s College’s policies and procedures concerning the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and our response to infringement claims are published in the Appropriate Use Policy.
  • Periodically, all College employees receive email from the President or other officers regarding copyright infringement and related issues.

Effectively Combat the Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Material

We currently employ bandwidth-shaping technology (Palo Alto) to prioritize network traffic. We limit the amount of bandwidth available to P2P applications but we do not filter such applications since much of the traffic is legal.

We are investigating setting alerts to be generated by the Palo Alto should users attempt access to illegal P2P file sharing. Such users would be reminded that P2P file sharing is illegal and against St. John’s College acceptable use policies. If we observe continued high bandwidth consumption we will contact such users to ensure that their bandwidth consumption is the result of legal purposes only.

Plans for Addressing Copyright Infringement Issues

The College will use the following criteria to address copyright infringement issues:

  • Technology based deterrents to downloading illegally will include: The Palo Alto Network Packet and Firewall System has the ability to control P2P network traffic and log requests for access to illegal download sites.
  • Mechanisms for educating the community about appropriate use of copyrighted material will include: statements in the Student Handbook, the Tutor’s Handbook of Customs and Policies; Information Technology’s Policies of Appropriate Use and Compliance with the HEOA Peer-to-Peer File Sharing; the Staff Handbook, yearly emails sent out to all students, tutors, and administrative staff; and information handouts given to freshmen at orientation. The information in the Handbooks will include a summary description of copyright and copyright infringement, a summary of civil and criminal penalties for copyright infringement, and a description of the institutional penalties the College might exact in the event of copyright infringement using College resources by a student, faculty, or staff member. The yearly emails sent to students, tutors, and administrative staff will also include a link to a web site offering legal alternatives to illegal downloading.
  • Use of College resources to infringe on copyrighted material will be handled as a disciplinary matter and will penalized by up to and including expulsion in the case of students and up to and including dismissal in the case of employees.
  • The Assistant Dean, in conjunction with the Library Director and the ITS Operations Manager will review these policies for effectiveness once per year when school is not in session. The criteria for review will be both process and outcome oriented. The Assistant Dean will review whether the policies have been implemented as planned (process) and will obtain from the Library Director and the ITS Operations Manager information on how the number of incidents of infringement compares to previous years.
  • This plan will be available upon request from the Assistant Deans office.

Offering Alternatives to Illegal File Sharing

Legal Downloading Resources. Members of the St. John’s College community are encouraged to take advantage of these legitimate sources of digital content. For further information, please read St. John’s College IT Appropriate Use Policy and HEOA Compliance.