Copyright P2P Overview

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 College’s 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, ITS 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

St John’s College does not allow P2P file sharing from the college network. We currently employ bandwidth-shaping technology (Palo Alto) to prioritize network traffic.

Appropriate Use Overview

This policy affects the students, faculty, and staff of St. John’s College and use of all of the information technology systems belonging to the college.

The St. John’s College Information Technology System includes: computers, communications networks, computer accounts, web pages, network access, central computing facilities, and related services. Access to and use of the college Information Technology System is a privilege granted to currently enrolled students, faculty, and staff. As a user of the Information Technology System, you have two basic rights:

  • Privacy, and
  • A fair share of resources.

In turn, you bear citizenship responsibilities to preserve these rights for your fellow technology system users. This statement of rights and responsibilities is grounded in the community standards and policies outlined in the college’s student, tutor and staff handbooks.

All computer accounts and files belong to somebody.

Your Right: Privacy. No other user may browse, access, copy or change your computer files without your authorization.

Your Responsibility: To uphold your right to privacy and that of your fellow users by not allowing another individual to use your computer account, and by not using another person’s account or attempting to gain access to their files without authorization.

Accessing others’ files or monitoring their computer or network use – except by technology staff for system troubleshooting, maintenance, or security purposes –constitutes a violation of privacy.

Ability to access a file does not grant permission to do so.

You are responsible for any use of your account; therefore, you need to take all reasonable precautions, including maintaining a secure password and always logging your account out, to prevent use of your account by others.

Information Technology System

The college Information Technology System, including Internet services, is a shared resource provided to St. John’s students, faculty and staff. The services support the business of the college; teaching, learning, scholarship and administration. Recreational use of resources is not allowed to degrade System performance at any time.

Your Rights

Fair access. No other user may deny, diminish or disrupt your access through any means, including:

  • Intentionally, recklessly or negligently damaging equipment and other physical resources;
  • Intentionally, recklessly or negligently attempting to degrade, disrupt, or damage computer system and network performance, software, data or data transmission;
  • Unduly consuming computing or network resources;
  • Violating the privacy of your files and accounts;
  • Masquerading as another user;
  • Distributing material which violates applicable local, state, and federal laws;
  • Distributing material which is demeaning or discriminatory via any electronic mail or other computer network facility;
  • Making random or mass mailings; and
  • Using resources for commercial or political purposes.

Your Responsibility

Is to uphold the right to fair access of your fellow users by properly utilizing resources and avoiding any detrimental effect on the work of others. You are responsible for the behavior of any computer you connect to the college network; therefore you need to take all reasonable precautions including running anti-virus and anti-spyware software and keeping their definitions current.

Your use of the St. John’s College Information Technology System must comply with all federal, New Mexico, Maryland, and other applicable laws; all applicable contracts and licenses; and college policies as articulated in the student, faculty and staff handbooks. These laws, contracts, licenses and policies include:

  • Laws governing libel, privacy, copyright, trademark, obscenity, and child pornography;
  • The Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which prohibits eavesdropping on network data;
  • The Computer Abuse Amendments Act, which prohibits spreading viruses or other harmful code;
  • The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which prohibits the distribution of copyrighted materials over the Internet for which the distributor does not have permission;
  • The college’s harassment policy;
  • The college’s non-profit status; and
  • All applicable software licenses.


If a literary, musical, or artistic work is copyrighted, there are legal limits on who can copy or otherwise use that work. Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement. Students are responsible for making sure that their use of copyrighted materials is appropriate and legal. If a student infringes on copyright using college resources, the college may be held liable. The assistant dean, the director of IT, and the library director are available to answer questions about appropriate use of copyrighted materials.

Copyright infringement will be treated as a disciplinary matter, subject to disciplinary action up to and including expulsion. Legal penalties for copyright infringement include both 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. More information can be found on the website of the U.S. Copyright Office at, and their FAQ’s at

Policy Violations

Alleged violations of this policy, or violation of other college policies in the course of using the Information Technology System, may result in an immediate loss of privileges and may also result in the referral of the matter to the appropriate judicial authority as specified in each college handbook.