The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, includes provisions requiring educational institutions to combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials by users of their networks. These provisions require:

That upon request, the institution supply prospective and current students with the following information:

A statement which explicitly informs students that unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material may subject the students to civil or criminal liability.

A summary of the penalties for violation of Federal Copyright Law.

The institution's policies on unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, including disciplinary actions taken against students who engage in such activities using the institution's network.

That the institution certify to the Department of Education (DOE) that it has developed and implemented written plans to effectively combat unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material by users of the institution's network, without unduly interfering with educational and research use of the network. Plans must include the following four components:

  • One or more technological deterrents.
  • Mechanisms for educating and informing the institution's community about appropriate versus inappropriate use of copyrighted materials.
  • Procedures for handling unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including disciplinary procedures.
  • Procedures for periodically reviewing the effectiveness of the plans, using relevant assessment criteria.

That, to the extent possible, the institution must offer legal alternatives for downloading or otherwise acquiring copyrighted material. The institution must also periodically review the legal alternatives and make the results of such review available to students through a web site or other means.

That the institution make an annual disclosure informing students that the illegal distribution of copyrighted materials may subject them to criminal and civil penalties and describing the steps that institutions will take to detect and punish illegal distribution of copyrighted materials.

That the institution certify to the Secretary of Education that they have developed plans to "effectively combat" the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material.

Legal Alternatives for Acquiring Copyrighted Materials
Many options exist for obtaining music, videos and other digital content in a legal manner. Members of the CU-Boulder campus are encouraged to utilize these legitimate sources of digital content found at

Plans for Combating the Unauthorized Distributions of Copyrighted Material

1. Annual Disclosure:
Consistent with our educational principles, we view education as the most important element in combating illegal sharing of copyrighted materials at the University of Colorado Boulder. We use a wide variety of methods to inform our community about the law and CU-Boulder’s response to copyright infringement claims. First and foremost, we provide a strong statement regarding copyright:

"As a community, we respect the intellectual property of others, regardless of what medium the material is transmitted in. This is a cornerstone of academic integrity. We prohibit the use of unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, which is subject to both civil and criminal penalties as well as university procedures."

Student and parents during summer and fall orientation hear about our commitment to upholding current copyright laws, options for alternatives, and sanctions for illegal use. Students, upon signing into our network, receive a login registration page and acceptance use prompt which emphasizes our copyright position.

Additionally, we reinforce our copyright statement in a variety of written formats including:

Every fall, the IT Security Office launches a copyright campaign that includes a month-long publicity which includes posters, table-tents and Buff Bulletins.

2. Procedures for handling unauthorized distribution
The University of Colorado Boulder responds to notifications of copyright violations on its networks, addresses copyright violations with a “three strikes” procedure. It also recognizes that, depending on the situation, a single offense may be sufficient for immediate suspension or termination of network services and access privileges, and for names of violators to be referred to the appropriate authorities for criminal or civil prosecution.

First Notification
The first time notification is received that a computer on the CU-Boulder network is associated with the downloading or distribution of copyrighted materials, an email is sent to the user registered to that computer (or, sometimes, to a departmental system administrator) informing him or her of the notification. The user has two business days to respond and either demonstrate that the notification was unwarranted (by showing, for instance, that the materials were not copyrighted, or that the use qualified for a legal exception) or indicate that no more unauthorized downloading or distribution will take place. If any notification is shown to be unwarranted, no record of it is kept.

If the user does not respond within two days and/or if unauthorized use of copyrighted materials continues, network access is suspended (the user’s network connection is disabled) until the situation is resolved. Email and other accounts are not disabled. The appointing or sponsoring authority of faculty, staff, or sponsored affiliates is informed of this first notification. Users who receive a notification of a copyright violation are strongly encouraged to review the educational materials at, and take the self-quiz on the site to check their understanding of the issues.

Second Notification
On the second notification, the user will have his/her network access suspended immediately. He or she is required to submit a signed certification page that states that the user understands copyright issues and the ramifications of a subsequent offense or to demonstrate that the notification was unwarranted. Network access will be restored no sooner than two business days after receipt of the certification page. The appointing or sponsoring authority of faculty, staff, or sponsored affiliates is informed of this second notification.

Third Notification
If after completion of the educational requirement, a third notification is received, network access shall be suspended immediately. The user is again informed by email of the notification. Cases involving students are sent to Judicial Affairs; those involving faculty or staff are referred to the appropriate appointing authority. Network access is not restored, if at all, until the case is adjudicated by Judicial Affairs, or reviewed and decided by the appointing authority. Judicial Affairs and the appointing authority can impose whatever sanctions—including termination of network access; probation, suspension, expulsion (for students); or corrective action (for faculty and staff)—are deemed appropriate.

The existence and imposition of university sanctions do not protect members of the campus community from any legal action by external entities or the university itself.

Technological Deterrents
The University of Colorado Boulder traffic management strategy limits the bandwidth that particular users are able to consume, ensuring that academic (instruction, research, and administration) uses of the campus network are not adversely impacted by non-academic traffic.

We recognize that large amounts of bandwidth may be required for legitimate educational and/or research purposes. To request an exemption to the above deterrent, students, faculty, or staff should contact ITS Networking at: (303) 735-4357 or 5-HELP if on campus.

Procedures for Periodically Reviewing the Effectiveness of Plan
Once a year, the University Libraries along with ITS, will convene a working group, which includes and Housing and Dining Services as well as faculty and student representation to review the current communication strategies, along with alternatives and technology deterrents to ensure consistency and effectiveness for the campus community.

Students and prospective students may obtain a copy of the documents listed immediately below by contacting Brice Austin.

Penalties for Violating Copyright
In utilizing any of the exclusive rights provided to the copyright holder without his or her permission, you may be violating or infringing on his rights under the Copyright Act. If the copyright holder has registered the infringed work with the U.S. Copyright Office prior to the infringement, the copyright holder may be entitled to compensation for his or her loss. Compensation may include damages, such as lost profits from the infringing activity, or statutory damages ranging from $250 to $150,000 for each infringing copy or higher if the court feels that the infringement was committed "willfully."

You may also be criminally liable if you willfully copy a work for profit or financial gain, or if the work has a value of more than $1,000. Penalties can include a one year jail sentence plus fines. If the value is more than $2,500, you may be sentenced to five years in jail plus fines. Criminal penalties generally apply to large-scale commercial piracy.