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Alverno College's Higher Education Opportunity Act Compliance on File Sharing

The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) includes provisions regarding unauthorized file sharing on campus networks. The Act states that educational institutions must provide information on how they are complying with this requirement.  The following is Alverno’s response to this Act.

A committee of faculty and staff was formed to address this issue and develop various ways to further the education of students, faculty, staff and guests about copyright issues.  We met to share the issues related to copyright across departments: copyright compliance, downloading, using materials from the internet, etc.  This is an ever evolving field (legal and technical), and we will continue to meet to discuss current concerns and our response to requests.

Annual Disclosure

Alverno College believes in the power of education; therefore, we feel that education is the best way of combating the issue of illegally sharing copyrighted materials. Educational methods used at Alverno include:

  • All faculty and staff receive a copy of the college Technology Use Policies when they request a network account.  By signing the network request form, they acknowledge that they received a copy and agree to abide by the policies.  This policy includes a section on copyright compliance and specific wording about file sharing, music and video downloads.  The policy is posted on the Technology Services web page and as a hyperlink on the wireless login page.
  • The Technology Use Policy is part of the Student Handbook.  All students are responsible for knowing and adhering to the policies in the Handbook.  The handbook is integrated into orientation.
  • Copyright information is also part of syllabi for all Integrated Communication Seminars and other specific courses.
  • Each school year an article is published in the employee newsletter and in the student newsletter outlining Alverno’s policy on copyright infringement, including file-sharing and other illegal activities.
  • The Library staff actively educates the Alverno community regarding copyright policy. They discuss it during Library orientations for both new students and new employees. Librarians provide informal education as needed.  In addition, the Library maintains several LibGuides for students, faculty & staff specifically addressing copyright information.
  • All student group organizations receive the Student Group Handbook that includes policies for viewing movies, videos, etc. as part of their organization’s activities.
  • An educational video is available for all faculty, staff, and students to view regarding peer-to-peer file sharing. Faculty, staff, and students can access the video by clicking on the link. HEOA Video
  • An educational video regarding peer-to-peer file sharing is available on the Res Life Moodle page for students who live on campus to watch and learn the consequences of illegal downloading.
Plans to Effectively Combat the Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Material

Alverno’s Technology Services department manages peer-to-peer traffic with bandwidth shaping using Cisco’s Quality of Service. We do not filter these applications because some of the traffic is legal. In addition, we are able to identify “top talkers”, those who are using large amounts of bandwidth.

We have a process in place for accepting and responding to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) notices. Technology Services has a procedure for identifying the user of the computer through login and/or Keyserver logs, via the MAC address that faculty, staff and students provide when they register a personal device on the MyDevices portal or through the Cisco Wireless Control System. Notification of the offense to the appropriate department is then given. The Department Head will work with Human Resources or the Dean of Students for any appropriate employee/student disciplinary action.

Unauthorized duplication or transmission of copyrighted or other proprietary content could subject you to criminal prosecution as well as personal liability in a civil suit. Alverno College does not require, request, or condone unauthorized copying or use of computer software, scanned or digital images and audio or video files by College employees or students. The College will not provide legal defense for individuals who may be accused of making such unauthorized copies of software, music, movies or other types of files and documents even if these individuals maintain that such action was taken in the course of their employment by or enrollment at Alverno College. If the College is sued or fined because of unauthorized copying or use, it may seek payment from the individuals as well as subject them to disciplinary action. Alverno College will work with local and Federal agencies during an investigation for possible prosecution.

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.

For more information, please see the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at, especially their FAQ's at

Alternatives to Illegal File Sharing

Alverno offers alternatives to illegal file sharing. iTunes is installed on all campus-owned computers.

For additional legal downloading sites, see Educause's Legal Sources of Online Content Page

Revised /approved by Technology Steering Committee 12/6/19

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