File Sharing Policy
Washington State Community College maintains a campus network to support and enhance the academic and administrative needs of our students, faculty, staff and other campus users. The college is required by Federal Law – H.R. 4137, Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) – to make an annual disclosure informing students that illegal distribution of copyrighted materials may lead to civil and/or criminal penalties. Also, the HEOA requires institutions to take steps to detect and punish users who illegally distribute copyrighted materials. The college must certify to the Secretary of Education that a policy is in place. Finally, the HEOA requires the college to provide alternatives to illegal file sharing. All users are encouraged to check the list of "Alternatives to Illegal Downloading".
Although the HEOA makes reference only to students using Peer-to-Peer, this policy applies to all Washington State network users. The College reserves the right to suspend or terminate network access to any campus user if the violation is deemed severe. Likewise, network access may be suspended if any use is impacting the operations of the network. Violations may be reported to appropriate authorities for criminal or civil prosecution.
Users are strongly encouraged to review the educational resources regarding legal uses of copyrighted material: http://www.copyright.gov.
Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation
of Federal Copyright Laws
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.
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.