New copyright regulations coming to college campuses

Starting July 1, new copyright regulations will apply to colleges that participate in federal student aid programs. The regulations implement provisions of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA) relating to copyright infringement on campus networks. 

HEOA creates three new requirements for colleges, as summarized by EDUCAUSE:

  • An annual disclosure to students describing copyright law and campus policies related to violating copyright law
  • A plan to “effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials” by users of its network, including “the use of one or more technology-based deterrents”
  • A plan to “offer alternatives to illegal downloading”

The Department of Education has provided a sample text that colleges may use to summarize the penalties for violating federal copyright laws. EDUCAUSE also has a collection of resources on the HEOA copyright provisions, including information on compliance. 

ALA is concerned with this unfunded mandate that outsources copyright enforcement to institutions of higher education. However, the ultimate impact of the law will be determined by colleges, which have considerable flexibility in meeting the new requirements. ALA encourages academic librarians to engage with the compliance process on their campus, ensuring that policies are consistent with the principles of librarianship, including information access and intellectual freedom. 

Gavin Baker
Information Technology Policy Analyst, OITP

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