HCC P2P Policy


I am not a lawyer and this guide does not constitute legal advice. If you have legal questions, please contact a lawyer.
— Nana Owusu-Nkwantabisa

HEOA Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Compliance

H.R. 4137, the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) contains provisions that require higher educational institutions to take steps to reduce illegal uploading and downloading of copyrighted works through peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing on campus networks. These provisions require:

  • An annual disclosure informing students that illegal distribution of copyrighted materials may result in criminal and civil penalties, explaining that the college is taking steps to detect such violations, and that we have a disciplinary system in place to punish such illegal distribution.
  • Certification to the U. S. Secretary of Education that we have plans in place to detect and combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material.
  • Providing students with alternatives to illegal file sharing.
  • Periodic review of the effectiveness of the plan.

Annual Disclosure

Every Howard Community College employee and student is responsible for complying with section 668.14 of the HEOA, the provision prohibiting illegal peer-to-peer file sharing. Downloading or sharing copyrighted music, videos, or games without permission from the copyright owner can result in:

  • a criminal penalty of 5 years in prison and $250,000 in fines, even for a first offense.
  • a civil penalty of $750 or higher per illegal song.

Howard Community College uses a variety of methods to inform the college community about copyright law, illegal P2P file sharing, and other illegal activity. We require that all users of campus technology resources agree to abide by:

By logging in to college technology resources, campus computer users are agreeing to follow these policies and standards. Students suspected of violating such policies are subject to the disciplinary process set forth in the Student Code of Conduct; if found to be in violation, students are subject to disciplinary action up to and including suspension and expulsion.

The college educates the college community on copyright law and consequences, illegal P2P file sharing, and other violations of policies and proper use of information technology by:

  • posting extensive copyright guidelines on the library website.
  • posting information and links on the information technology help desk website.
  • posting notices in the library and student computer labs discouraging illegal file sharing and other copyright violations.
  • providing online policies and procedures readily available to faculty and staff.
  • supplying information in new student orientation materials.
  • displaying notices upon login to college staff and student computers.
  • publishing notices on the college digital display system.

Plans to Detect and Combat Illegal P2P File Sharing

The college plan involves using several methods to detect and deter illegal P2P file sharing:

  • Bandwidth shaping to prioritize traffic based on the academic and business needs of the college.
  • A url filtering device to identify, block and redirect any discovered illegal P2P traffic.
  • Network traffic monitoring to identify, trace and investigate continuous high bandwidth users.
  • Blocking any and all unnecessary TCP/UDP ports campus-wide.
  • Reporting students who engage in suspected illegal behaviors via online form for investigation and possible disciplinary action under the Student Code of Conduct.
  • Educating the college community, as described in the Annual Disclosure section.

Periodic Review of Effectiveness

The college will periodically review this plan for effectiveness by monitoring the number of Student Code of Conduct violations reported. If we determine that illegal file sharing activity takes place on campus, even with the plan fully implemented, more aggressive technologies and actions to detect and deter will be considered.

Alternatives to Illegal File Sharing

Students may seek out legitimate and legal sources of digital content, such as the suggested sites listed by Educause.

Due to limitations on college bandwidth resources, some of the suggested legal sites may not be available from campus computers.