The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA) includes three requirements for addressing illegal peer-to-peer file sharing of copyrighted material by those using campus networks. Mid Michigan College will be required to:

  1. inform students annually they may be subject to criminal and civil penalties if they engage in illegal distribution of copyrighted materials and describe the steps being taken to detect and punish such activity,
  2. certify to the Secretary of Education that the institution has plans to effectively combat unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, and
  3. offer alternatives to illegal file sharing.

Mid Michigan College complies with these requirements as follows:

  • Publishes warnings online and in presentations that students who violate copyright laws may be subject to disciplinary action by the College as well as prosecution under state and federal guidelines.
  • Information Technology monitors network activity and utilizes the college firewall to stop illegal file sharing and copyright used to certify to the Secretary of Education that we effectively combat illegal file sharing at Mid Michigan College.

Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws

Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement.

Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or "statutory" damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For "willful" infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.

Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.

For more information, please see the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at, especially their FAQ's at