Wednesday, August 13, 2008

H.R. 4137 - P2P and Higher Education

EDUCAUSE and the American Council on Education have released an advisory regarding H.R. 4137, a recently passed law waiting on the President's signature. The law requires higher education institutions to do three major things:

  1. To notify students that illegal distribution of copyrighted materials may subject them to civil and criminal penalties, and to describe the steps that the institution will take to detect and punish illegal distribution of copyrighted materials.
  2. The institutions will have to certify to the Secretary of Education that they have created plans to effectively combat unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials. Institutions are required to consider the use of technology based deterrents such as bandwidth shaping and traffic monitoring. Notably, institutions are not required to adopt any specific technology, and the Secretary of Education is not required to collect, review, or to approve the plans.
  3. Institutions are required to offer alternatives to illegal file sharing "to the extent practicable".

These requirements are far less egregious than the might have been, and allow quite a bit of room for universities to operate within. That is, in large part because EDUCAUSE and other higher education organizations have been fighting this and similar requirements for some time. There is both good and bad news for institutions: the good is that as the EDUCAUSE memo notes, institutions operating in good faith and making reasonable efforts to comply should be in good shape. The bad news is that the negotiated rulemaking around the law must still occur, and that further restrictions and requirements can result.

Flickr Creative Commons image courtesy of MacGBeing.

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