Copyright Infringement Policy

Last Updated: August 2023
Applies To: All Faculty, Staff, Students, Affiliates, Retirees

I. Purpose

The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008 was signed into law by President George W. Bush in August 2008. Proposed regulations were issued by the Department of Education in August 2009, and final regulations were issued in October 2009. Several sections of the HEOA deal with unauthorized file sharing on campus networks, imposing three general requirements on all U.S. colleges and universities:

  • An annual disclosure to students describing copyright law and campus policies related to violating copyright law.
  • A plan to "effectively combat" copyright abuse on the campus network using a "variety of technology-based deterrents."
  • To the extent practicable, offer alternatives to illegal downloading of peer-to-peer copyrighted material.

This policy to is to outline Northeast Mississippi Community College’s (“NEMCC”, “Northeast”, “College”) response to the requirements of the HEOA of 2008 regarding copyright infringement.

II. Annual Disclosure

Northeast Mississippi Community College respects the intellectual property rights of others and holds its students, faculty, and staff to the highest level of integrity. As such, the College strictly prohibits the unauthorized distribution of any copyrighted material, including peer-to-peer file sharing and illegal downloading. Individuals that participate in such activity via Northeast’s computer system and network may subject themselves to civil and criminal liabilities as well as discipline as outlined in college policies. NEMCC’s Appropriate Computer Use Policy, adopted by the Board of Trustees, permits the use of the College’s computer resources in accordance with college policies as well as any applicable federal, state, and local laws. The College strictly prohibits illegal activities on its computer systems and network. All users consent to monitoring for certain purposes and if monitoring reveals evidence of criminal activity or misuse of state resources, this evidence will be referred to the appropriate legal and law enforcement agencies. The College reserves the right to limit, restrict, or deny access to users who engage in illegal activities. Further, users may be subject to disciplinary sanctions which include, but are not limited to, reprimand, suspension, and involuntary dismissal.

Students and prospective students may obtain a copy of the College’s Appropriate Computer Use Policy from the college website at and the Student Code of Conduct from the College’s Catalog at

III. Federal Penalties for Copyright Infringement

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. See Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505 for details. 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 FAQs at

IV. Deterring Copyright Infringement

A. Educational Deterrents

Provide a "Notice to Students, Faculty & Staff" email every semester outlining federal law, College policy, campus practices, and the potential internal and external sanctions applicable to copyright infringement, including unauthorized P2P file sharing via the campus network.

Information on copyright violations will be posted on the Computer Center website, the Student Conduct section of the College Catalog under the heading DMCA Violations.

Notice of this policy and violation will also be presented during student orientation sessions along with a Disclosure Statement on all College Course Syllabi.

B. Policy Enforcement Deterrent

  • Create, maintain, and enforce a campus computer use policy clause prohibiting the unauthorized duplication, use, or distribution of copyrighted digital materials (including software, music, video, graphics, etc.).
  • Document, publicize, and adhere to campus procedures for addressing notices and other communications pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
  • Maintain a historical record of policy violators for use in applying progressive discipline to repeat offenders.

C. Technology-Based Deterrent

To the extent practicable, configure the College’s intrusion prevention and firewall systems to block and/or otherwise disrupt transmissions employing the P2P networks and protocols that are used almost exclusively for illegal file sharing.

Utilize Network Access Control and Wireless Network Control systems to prevent offending computers from accessing the campus network until such time as any allegedly infringing materials are removed or otherwise made unavailable from those systems.

V. Legal Alternatives for Acquiring Copyrighted Materials

Northeast Mississippi Community College encourages members of its family to utilize legitimate sources for obtaining digital information. 

There are many legal options for downloading digital media such as music and movies.  The most up-to-date sources are maintained by industry associations such as the RIAA and MPA

VI. Exceptions

Exceptions to, or exemptions from, any provision of this Policy must be approved by the Director of the Computer Center.

VII. Violations

Violations of this Policy by faculty, staff, or students may be subject to disciplinary action.