Intellectual Property, Copyright, and Sharing of Digital Files

As amended August 2010

Respect for intellectual labor and creativity is vital to academic discourse and enterprise. This principle applies to works of all authors and publishers in all media. It encompasses respect for the right to acknowledgment, right to privacy, and right to determine the form, manner, and terms of publication and distribution. Because electronic information is easily reproduced and changed, respect for the work and personal expression of others is especially critical in computer environments. Violations of authorial integrity, including plagiarism, invasion of privacy, unauthorized access, and trade secret and copyright violations, may be grounds for sanctions against members of the academic community.

Users of the Allegheny College computer network should also know that the distribution of copyrighted material is a potential violation of both criminal and civil federal law. Copyright material can include movies, television shows, music, games or software. Care should be taken when sharing any such materials to ensure that it is only done in ways that respect copyright law. File or Internet share systems such as BitTorrent or Limewire “distribute” such material automatically when outbound functions are on and your computer is hooked up to the Internet. Therefore, even if you have legally purchased a copy of material, for example on CD or DVD, loaded it on your computer and run one of these systems, you may be in violation of law for distributing it out to the Internet. The recording, media, and publishing industries take the unauthorized use of copyrighted material very seriously and vigorously seek out potential violations. Penalties for copyright infringement can be severe, up to $150,000 per work infringed.

Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), Allegheny College is required to take steps to insure that the College’s electronic resources are not used for unauthorized access, copying, or sharing of copyrighted work. These steps are outlined below:

Notice and Takedown.
If a copyright owner notifies Allegheny College of a claimed infringement (see Note 1 for notification procedures), or if the College becomes aware of an infringement, the College will take reasonable actions to stop the claimed infringement while the matter is being investigated. In particular, access to the material in question will be blocked to the extent possible without unduly interfering with the educational and research use of the College’s network. Typically, blocking is accomplished by temporarily suspending the network access of the community member responsible for the site, device, or service that is the source of the claimed infringement. When an Internet site (e.g., web site, blog, or wiki) is the source of the claimed infringement, access to the relevant portions of the site in question is blocked.
A representative of Information Technology Services (ITS) will inform the responsible community member of the claimed infringement and his or her rights and obligations.

Notice and Putback
If the community member responsible for the site, device, or service that is the source of the claimed infringement believes that the material in question is not covered by or is exempt from current copyright laws—for example, fair use provisions for academic use provide exemption—he or she may appeal the decision to block access by notifying the College’s DMCA Notification Agent. Upon receipt of an appeal from the Owner (see Note 2 for details), the Agent will instruct the System’s Manager to restore access to the material. In addition, the Agent will notify the complaining party that the access to the material has been restored at the request of the site owner. Further action on the part of the College will await settlement of the issue between the two parties involved.

Remediation and Sanctions
Network or web site access will be restored if the ITS’ representative determines that there is insufficient evidence to support a claim of copyright infringement or if the responsible community member has provided details sufficient to show that copyright infringement is no longer an issue. This often requires the removal of file-sharing software from the community member’s computer or the removal of offending material from the community member’s Internet site. If after investigation there is reasonable evidence to support a claim that copyright infringement did occur, the case will be referred to the College’s Student Conduct Officer (for students) or appropriate supervisor (for employees) for appropriate action as outlined in the Student, Faculty, or Employee Handbooks.

Repeat Offenders
Repeat offenders may lose their right to use College computing resources. In particular, users who are found to have inappropriately shared copyrighted material a third time using College computing resources after having twice been informed of copyright infringement, will not be allowed to post material on College-supported Sites or access the Internet via the College’s network without the direct intervention of the appropriate member of the College’s Administrative Executive Committee. Repeat offenders may also face sanctions imposed under the College’s student, faculty, and employee conduct policies. Such sanctions may include dismissal from the College.

Notes:

  1. Proper written notification from a copyright owner to Allegheny College must be sent to the College’s DMCA agent and include
    • The name, address and electronic signature of the complaining party;
    • Sufficient information to identify the copyrighted work or works;
    • The infringing matter and its Internet location;
    • A statement by the owner that it has a good faith belief that there is no legal basis for the use of the materials complained of; and
    • A statement of the accuracy of the notice and, under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner.
  2. If a student or employee files a proper counter notice, attesting to the lawful use of the material, then Allegheny College will promptly notify the copyright owner and within 14 business days restore the material, unless the matter has been referred to a court. The counter notice must contain these elements:
    • The student/employee’s name, address, phone number and physical or electronic signature;
    • Identification of the material and its location before removal;
    • A statement under penalty of perjury that the material was removed by mistake or misidentification; and
    • The student/employee’s consent to local federal court jurisdiction, or if overseas, to an appropriate judicial body.