P2P File Sharing Notice

Notice to Students about P2P File Sharing and Copyright Infringement

In 2008 Congress passed and the President signed into law the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) that became effective July 1, 2010. Several of the Act's provisions are intended to reduce unauthorized duplication of copyrighted works through peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing on campus networks. As part of complying with the HEOA, South Texas College is notifying students about copyright infringement and the ramifications of copyright infringement. You are STRONGLY ADVISED to read this notice thoroughly and give it careful consideration. Paper copies of this notice and the information referenced in it are available upon request by contacting IS&P Client Services at (956) 872-2111.

South Texas College provides a high speed network and other information technology resources to help you accomplish your educational goals. When accessing college information resources with your user account, you agree to abide by the college's Acceptable Use Guidelines. More specifically, you agree not to use college resources for unauthorized duplication, use, or distribution of copyrighted materials, including music and video files. The college considers unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing of copyrighted music and videos to be an inappropriate use of its network resources and a violation of the Acceptable Use Guidelines. Moreover, such activity is illegal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and exposes you to serious civil and criminal penalties.

The DMCA is a federal law that criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, and services intended to circumvent copyright protections. In addition, the DMCA heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet. 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. According to the Federal Department of Education, civil and criminal penalties for anyone found liable for copyright infringement include the following:

  • Actual damages or "statutory" damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed
  • Up to $150,000 per work infringed for 'willful' infringement in addition to potential costs and attorneys' fees
  • Imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense should the court rule for criminal penalties

Violations of the college's Acceptable Use Guidelines may result in revocation of student access to college information resources, including computer labs and wireless network privileges. Students may also be subject to disciplinary action under the college's Student Code of Conduct. Additionally, those who violate copyright law are subject to potential criminal and civil legal action by federal authorities and copyright holders.

The college may receive copyright infringement notices from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and other copyright holders. If information in the notification is correlated to a student, the student's network connection will be immediately turned off and will remain off until the student meets with the Office of Judicial Affairs.

Due to the many different methods of downloading digital material, students may engage in copyright infringement without being aware of it. For your information, South Texas College provides a list of legal alternatives to illegal downloading and sharing which may be referenced at free sources.

For more information regarding STC's Copyright Guidelines, U.S. Copyright Law, or the HEOA please visit: