L3Harris Commons

HEOA Compliance- File Sharing and Copyrighted Material

Issued by:

The Office of Information Technology

August 6, 2020

This plan was developed in accordance with the requirements of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) pertaining to Peer-to-Peer File Sharing and Copyrighted Material. The HEOA added provisions to the Higher Education Act, requiring institutions to take steps to combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials through illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property. The Program addresses the various legal requirements as set forth in the HEOA.

Compliance with the HEOA requires the following from the institution:

  • Annual Disclosure to Students – Florida Tech will utilize the standardized text produced by the Department of Education, available by July 1, 2010 and will supplement this standardized form with the institutional statement, describing Florida Tech’s policies and penalties related to the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, to meet the criteria of the third part of the annual disclosure requirement (See example email at end of this document). The Information Security Officer will send this annual disclosure statement to students three times a year (i.e. once every semester) via direct email to the students.
  • Institutional Information - As required by 34 CFR 668.43(a)(10), Florida Tech institutional policies and sanctions related to the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material IT-1006 Policy On Digital Millennium Copyright Act Violations
  • Use of Technology-Based Deterrents – Florida Tech’s plan to “effectively combat” copyright abuse on the campus network includes the use of the following technology-based deterrents: - Traffic Shaping Policies on our perimeter firewall to manage bandwidth utilization on our wireless and housing networks. In addition, a vigorous program of accepting and responding to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA notices) The information Security officer is the registered DMCA agent and all DMCA notices are sent to the network integrations team at The guidelines for DMCA consultations on Florida Tech’s website: 
  • This procedure has proven effective in rapidly resolving each case.
  • Offer alternatives to illegal file sharing – Florida Tech will inform students of a comprehensive list of legal downloading alternatives. This list has been developed by EDUCAUSE and can be found at the following URL:
  • Procedures for Periodic Review of the Program’s Effectiveness – Florida Tech will periodically review the effectiveness of this plan using the following criteria:
    • The relevant people (e.g. CIO, Dean of Students, General Counsel, Dean of Libraries) will meet at a given time each year to review the number of DMCA complaints received during the year to determine if the technology deterrents in place are effective. If a DMCA complaint is due to the circumvention of an existing technology deterrent in use by the University, the University will assess if any of them can be adjusted to prevent future unauthorized distribution. If an existing technology deterrent in use by the University cannot be adjusted to prevent future unauthorized distribution, the use of other technology-based deterrents will be evaluated.
    • The Alternatives to Illegal Downloading will be reviewed annually, and these alternatives will be included in the Annual Disclosure sent to the students each year.



Example email

Campus Community,

Please read through the following information.  This is important information regarding file sharing, and places to download legal media. 

Copyright infringement continues to be a big problem across universities and networks around the country.  Many peer-to-peer file-sharing applications including Gnutella, Bittorrent, eDonkey, and Ares are being used to illegally download and distribute copyrighted materials.  Users of these applications are not anonymous and can be easily tracked by owners of copyrighted works or their agents.  Owners of copyrighted works can, and do, initiate legal actions against individuals that download or share copyrighted works illegally.  Florida Tech has received notices of legal actions in the past for these types of occurrences.   Florida Tech does not defend users from legal actions.   However, we do comply with applicable laws such as the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act and will only turn over identifying information after receiving a legal order or subpoena. 

If you do not own the copyright on a copyrighted material such as a game, movie, music, anime, or TV show, it is usually a violation of copyright to share the work with others through file sharing applications or other methods.   Legal action may be taken against an individual for downloading as well as sharing copyrighted material.

Penalties for copyright infringement are as follows:

Criminal penalties:   If the circumvention violations are determined to be willful and for commercial or private financial gain, first time offenders may be fined up to $500,000, imprisoned for five years, or both. For repeat offenders, the maximum penalty increases to a fine of $1,000,000, imprisonment for up to ten years, or both.  

Civil penalties:  Up to $150,000 per digital work (song, movie, TV show, etc.) under the No Electronic Theft Act.  $750 per work is the minimum penalty.  If an individual held in violation of the DMCA commits another such violation within the three-year period following the judgment, the court may increase the damages up to triple the amount that would otherwise be awarded.

Individuals illegally distributing copyrighted works may end up with both criminal and civil penalties.   Criminal penalties do not require financial or monetary gain on the part of the individual despite popular belief.  Most file sharing applications automatically redistribute any copyrighted works that the individual downloads.

Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), media companies may send Florida Tech a DMCA takedown notice.  These notices inform us that a media company has identified a user on our network who is distributing copyrighted works usually through a file sharing application.   Florida Tech is required by law to take action to prevent the continued spread of the copyrighted material in question, and to terminate the accounts of repeat offenders.  Florida Tech’s policy regarding DMCA violations can be found at the following link:

Please be aware, that the number of offenses an individual may receive never resets during their stay at Florida Tech.  We treat all offenses by a staff or faculty member very seriously depending on the circumstances regarding the notice.   A student could receive two DMCA notices their freshman year, and another their senior year.  In this case, the DMCA noticed received during the senior year is treated as a third time offense since the number of offenses never resets.

Downloading materials that are not licensed in the U.S. such as fan-subbed anime is also a violation of copyright.  Although the company has not licensed the work in the United States, the Berne Convention signed by many countries including the United States and Japan provides that a copyright in one country is protected in all countries that have signed the treaty.  Because of this, we do receive DMCA take down notices from foreign companies including several anime companies.  These companies may also file a lawsuit against people infringing these copyrights in the United States with the same penalties described above.

Copyright (Copyright Law of the United States) terms are the life of the creator + 70 years for works created in the United States, and life of the creator + 50 years for works created outside of the U.S, but in countries that have signed the Berne convention.  Because of this, copyright still exists on most works created in the past century.   We have received DMCA notices for old works such as the original Kings Quest game from the 80s, Doom, and some movies from the 1960s.   

Alternatives to unauthorized file sharing are available on EDUCAUSE’s website.
(Florida Tech does not endorse any of these organizations):

Rhapsody:   Subscription based service for music.  $9.99 - $14.99 a month.  Unlimited use, over 6 million songs.   Also offers individual MP3s and albums starting at $0.69 a song.

iTunes:  Purchase individual songs, albums, TV shows, movies.

Pandora:  Free streaming radio

Slacker:  Free streaming music

iHeart Radio   Free streaming radio


Amazon:  Purchase individual songs/albums (MP3 or physical media).  Also has movies on demand.

Gamefly:  Purchase or rent mainstream games and download them directly to your computer.

Good old Games:   Purchase old computer games for reduced prices.

Hulu: Legal site to watch many TV shows, movies and anime for free. Hulu Plus offers a subscription based service ($7.99 a month) as well.  Over 489 partners providing media.

Netflix: Pay subscription service for movies through the mail, or streaming video on PC, Mac, Xbox, Tablet, Wii and PS3.

In addition, the MPAA and RIAA have more comprehensive web pages with links to additional legal movie and music sites:

MPAA list of legal movie sites:

RIAA list of legal music sites:






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