Plan to Deter Illegal Peer-to-Peer File Sharing in Accordance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008


Policy Statement:

In compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA), Washington and Lee University adopts the following plan in order to deter unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material by users of the university's network, while at the same time not unduly interfering with educational and research-related use of the network.


This policy applies to all users of University owned or managed computer-related equipment, computer systems, and interconnecting networks, as well as all information contained therein.


Technology-Based Deterrents

The university blocks typical peer-to-peer protocols at the campus network perimeter, and monitors and investigates high bandwidth users. Additionally, the residential network segments have a default-deny policy that prohibits traffic initiated from off-campus.

Educating the Community

The university uses numerous mechanisms to educate and inform the community about appropriate versus inappropriate use of copyrighted material. Since August 2003, the university's Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Policy has banned the use of all file sharing programs (with limited exceptions for legal file sharing that is needed for education and research use). The policy, which is distributed to students every year via inclusion in the Student Handbook, notes that unauthorized file sharing is illegal and that it also constitutes a violation of the university's Computer and Network Use Policy (which prohibits use of the network that is incompatible with applicable laws). The Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Policy notes that student violators will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension.

The Student Handbook also contains a summary of the university's Policy for the Use of Copyrighted Works (Copyright Policy), including a description of applicable civil and criminal penalties for copyright violations. In addition to the inclusion of these policies in the Student Handbook each year, students are further reminded of these policies via the annual "Institutional Information" disclosure [as required under 34 C.F.R. § 668.43(a)(10)]. A more detailed summary of penalties for violation of federal copyright laws may be added after publication in the Federal Student Aid Handbook.

Procedures for Handling Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Material

Violations of IT-related university policies are handled according to the ITS Incident Response Procedures. The university also handles third-party complaints of copyright violations through its Designated Agent. Section X of the University's Copyright Policy. establishes the procedures for handling violations (including repeat violations) reported to the Designated Agent.

Legal Alternatives to Downloading

The university encourages all members of its community to avoid illegal file sharing by using legal alternatives. EDUCAUSE maintains a link to various legal alternatives at: (NOTE: The inclusion of this link does not constitute an endorsement by Washington and Lee University of any of the services listed on the EDUCAUSE site).

Procedures for Periodic Review of This Plan

The Chief Technology Officer will periodically call together a group of appropriate ITS staff (e.g. the Designated Agent) and other campus administrators (as necessary) to review the effectiveness of this plan in deterring incidents of illegal file sharing. Specific assessment criteria will be determined at the discretion of the Chief Technology Officer, but may include: trends in the number of Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaints; trends in excessive bandwidth usage; and/or any indication from third-party sources that illegal file sharing is occurring on the campus network. As part of this review, the group will examine the existing alternatives for downloading or otherwise acquiring copyrighted material and will consider whether and how to notify the campus community of the availability of such alternatives. After conducting the periodic review, the group will make the results available to students and other members of the university community through posting on the ITS website.

Revision History

This policy has not yet been revised.