Combating Illegal File Sharing

Compliance with the Peer to Peer (P2P) Provisions of the Higher Education Opportunity Act

Implementation Plan for University of California, Berkeley

The HEOA P2P provisions require universities to develop and implement “written plans to effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material by users of the institution’s network without unduly interfering with the educational and research use of the network.” This document constitutes UC Berkeley’s “written plans” to satisfy this HEOA requirement.

Original version: Summer 2010
Last revised: Summer 2019

Plan Outline

  1. Introduction
  2. Technology-Based Deterrents
    1. NAT for wireless networks 
    2. Traffic Monitoring
    3. DMCA Notice Response
  3. Community Education and Annual Disclosure  to Students
    1. Mechanisms for Educating the Community
  4. Legal Alternatives to Illegal File Sharing
  5. Campus Procedures for Handling Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Material
  6. Periodic Review of Plan and Assessment Criteria
    1. Procedures
    2. Assessment Criteria

Appendix A:
Required Information for Community Education and Student Disclosure

  1. Appropriate vs. Inappropriate Use of Copyrighted Material
  2. Institutional Policies and Sanctions Related to Copyright Infringement
  3. Student Disciplinary Procedures
  4. Civil/Criminal Liabilities / Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Law

I. Introduction

The University of California, Berkeley Campus (UC Berkeley) is committed to upholding U.S. copyright law. As an Internet Service Provider under the meaning of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), UC Berkeley does not monitor its networks for the purpose of discovering illegal activity. However, UC Berkeley pursues a set of ongoing initiatives to ensure that copyright, particularly as it applies to digital assets, is respected within the Campus community. These initiatives are described as follows in this implementation plan.

II. Technology-Based Deterrents

University of California campuses have developed various network management strategies to balance the many and competing demands placed on network resources. Under provisions of the DMCA and as a matter of University policy, the University does not routinely search for illegal activity that may occur over its networks. UC Berkeley employs the following technology-based deterrents to combat infringing activity.

  1. Network Address Translation (NAT) for wireless networks 
  2. Traffic monitoring 
  3. A vigorous program of accepting and responding to DMCA notices

UC Berkeley technology-based deterrents do not involve routine monitoring of the content of electronic communications for the purposes of identifying potentially infringing activities, in compliance with the University of California Electronic Communications Policy.

A. Network Address Translation (NAT) for Wireless Networks

For provisioning access to the campus wireless network, UC Berkeley uses Network Address Translation (NAT) for many-to-one mapping of private to public IP addresses. The wireless routing infrastructure does not forward inbound connections to hosts on the wireless network, which prevents most peer-to-peer file sharing programs from making content available for download.

B. Traffic Monitoring

Campus network administrators may, under a limited set of circumstances defined in UC policy, monitor network traffic. To ensure that bandwidth is available for academic, research and administrative uses in alignment with the University’s mission, network administrators may investigate anomalous spikes in network traffic in order to manage the resource and follow up as appropriate regarding potential hazards to network performance and availability. Under provisions of the DMCA and as a matter of University policy, the Campus does not routinely search for infringing or other illegal activity that may occur over its network.

C. DMCA Notice Response

UC Berkeley implements an active program for responding to copyright infringement notices. The institution follows UC system-wide guidelines for complying with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). In accordance with established procedures UC Berkeley has a DMCA agent and designated DMCA email address (DMCA), which are on file with the US Copyright Office. When UC Berkeley receives DMCA notices of alleged copyright violation, it ensures that the offending material is expeditiously removed from the network and the individual involved is appropriately addressed, as per the specifics of the case. Repeat offenders are blocked from using the network for a period of time. Also see the campus “Copyright Infringement” webpage for student disciplinary procedures.

III. Community Education and Annual Disclosure to Students

UC Berkeley community/student education efforts provide information about the following areas.

  • Appropriate vs. inappropriate use of copyrighted material
  • Institutional policies and sanctions related to copyright infringement
  • Student disciplinary procedures
  • Civil/criminal liabilities
  • Penalties for violation of federal copyright law 

More detailed information is provided in Appendix A.

UC Berkeley conducts an ongoing educational campaign to inform the UC community, and especially students, about our commitment to upholding copyright law, deterring copyright infringement, and following DMCA procedures. These educational activities include the following:

A. Mechanisms for Educating the Community

  • Orientation. Illegal file sharing is addressed during general campus student orientation, during residential student orientation, and during new employee orientation.
  • Account authentication. Illegal file sharing is addressed as part of the authentication process when students and/or employees are given access to campus email accounts. This comprises agreeing to acceptable use policies that address copyright law.
  • Acceptable use policies. UC Berkeley’s Computer Use Policy and Campus Online Activities Policy, and the UC Electronic Communications Policy define what activities are allowed or prohibited on the network and other campus electronic communications resources. Users must agree to these policies to obtain a UC Berkeley universal access account (CalNet ID) to gain access to the network and other campus electronic communications resources.
  • Informational websites. University of California system-wide websites advise students, campus staff, and the public about the University’s policies in this area, and have resources about file sharing. UC Berkeley has a central “Copyright Resources” site and Student Technology Services maintains a  “Policies” website with links to pages regarding file sharing and copyright, minimum security requirements, and campus network policies.
  • Posters on campus. Flyers in the residence halls, departmental offices, and visitor areas advise the community about the legalities of downloading copyrighted content

B. Annual Disclosure to Students

  • The campus sends students a disclosure regarding copyright infringement as shown in Appendix A via email each year.

IV. Legal Alternatives to Illegal File Sharing

UC Berkeley’s CIO is responsible for notifying the UC Berkeley community of legal options for obtaining electronic content, including movies and music. Currently, the “Copyright Resources” website refers the campus community to the list of legal alternatives maintained by EDUCAUSE, linking to the list from its informational website about copyright and illegal file sharing. The Student Technology Services “File Sharing & Copyright FAQ” also includes a list of legal options. Information regarding legal options is also included in the annual notice to students.

V. Campus Procedures for Handling Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Material

As described in Section II.C. above under the heading “DMCA Notice Response”, UC Berkeley implements an active program for responding to online copyright infringement allegation notices. Similar procedures as those employed in handling formal allegations of copyright infringement under the DMCA are also used with any other credible, specific allegation of copyright infringement, as an integral part of the enforcement of University policy, sound information and network security practice, and respect for intellectual property. The Student Technology Services “File Sharing and Copyright” policy webpage and referenced FAQ include detailed information about enforcement procedures in the residence halls, including sections describing procedures for Take-Down Notices, Subpoenas, and Pre-Settlement Letters.

VI. Periodic Review of Plan and Assessment Criteria

A. Procedures

Beginning in September 2010, UC Berkeley conducted an initial review of its Plan for Combating Illegal File sharing. Subsequent reviews are conducted every two years. No single criterion is used to determine whether or not the plan is effective; a range of factors are considered in the context of the changing, external environment. The assessment may include the following considerations.

B. Assessment Criteria

The Plan assessment criteria to be used at UC Berkeley are process-based and may consist of the following approaches.

  • Survey of the user community—are the education materials effective?
  • Periodic review and update of educational materials (Web, print, etc.) for user-friendliness / clarity / organization / pertinence / effectiveness
  • Review of recidivism—whether there are few or many repeat offenders (in comparable circumstances), and what the causes might be
  • Review of other institutions’ practices to determine if there are different approaches worth exploring and that are appropriate to the campus’ environment and policies
  • Review of the technological, social, and legal trends that may alter the number of complaints received

Appendix A

Required Information for Community Education and Student Disclosure

The following information will be included in the educational information provided to the community and as part of the annual student disclosure that is provided to students via email. This information also will be posted on and linked to from a website and may be referred to in the range of other educational mechanisms the campus employs.

A. Appropriate vs. Inappropriate Use of Copyrighted Material

A University of California System-wide website provides information about copyright, including appropriate vs. inappropriate uses of copyrighted material. The information includes FAQs about copyright ownership and using copyrighted material, and links to pertinent University of California policies.

The UC Berkeley Copyright Resources website links to the above UC website, as well as providing other educational and resource information.

Copyright law allows for the “fair use” of copyrighted materials for purposes of teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a complex subject; some resources for more information follow:

B. Institutional Policies and Sanctions Related to Copyright Infringement

Information about University policies addressing copyright infringement is available on the web. The UC Electronic Communications Policy (ECP) states that “The contents of all electronic communications shall conform to laws and University policies regarding the protection of intellectual property, including laws and policies regarding copyright, patents, and trademarks” (section III.D.10. Intellectual Property).

The ECP also provides for sanctions against network users who violate copyright law and UC policy: “In compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the university reserves the right to suspend or terminate access to university electronic communications systems and services by any user who repeatedly violates copyright law” (ECP Section III Allowable Use, E).

UC Berkeley has local policies as well that govern copyright infringement including the Campus Computer Use Policy which states as an example of misuse “Violating terms of applicable software licensing agreements or copyright laws”, and the Student Technology Services "File Sharing and Copyright" policy webpage which states, "If you share copyrighted material without permission, you are breaking the law and could be subject to legal consequences.”  

C. Student Disciplinary Procedures

UC Berkeley handles claims of online infringement under the DMCA through established processes. Once notified of possible copyright infringement, most students do not repeat the activity, and most cases do not result in a University conduct process. When it is necessary to initiate a conduct complaint, however, UC Berkeley utilizes established local procedures through the Berkeley Campus Code of Student Conduct [PDF] for adjudicating violations of University policy, including copyright violations. The Berkeley Campus Code of Student Conduct [PDF] states that illegal file sharing of copyrighted materials is a violation that may be grounds for discipline (section 102.05). (Also see Student Conduct.) Appropriate sanctions are imposed according to University guidelines. The type of sanction imposed depends on the facts of the case and may range from a warning to dismissal and may include a loss of privileges (including network access). UC Berkeley may use sanctions as a means to further educate students about responsibilities and appropriate behavior. For example, the student may be required to write a paper on copyright infringement, or develop copyright education materials for distribution, as well as other educational sanctions.

It is important to note that the UC Electronic Communications Policy provides for sanctions. It states that “In compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the university reserves the right to suspend or terminate access to university electronic communications systems and services by any user who repeatedly violates copyright law.” (ECP Section III Allowable Use, E)

In addition, the UC Berkeley Computer Use Policy includes violating terms of applicable copyright laws as an example of misuse and describes enforcement.

D. Civil/Criminal Liabilities / Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Law 

Text of Annual Disclosure to Students regarding Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws.  This text may be revised from time to time but will address the concepts shown below.
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 website of the U.S. Copyright Office at www.copyright.gov, especially their FAQ page.

In addition to possible civil or criminal liability for copyright infringement, Students also are subject to sanctions under the Berkeley Campus Code of Student Conduct [PDF], which states that illegal file sharing of copyrighted materials is a violation that may be grounds for discipline (section 102.05).

Finally, the UC Electronic Communications Policy provides for sanctions for copyright infringement. It states that “In compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the university reserves the right to suspend or terminate access to university electronic communications systems and services by any user who repeatedly violates copyright law.” (ECP Section III Allowable Use, E)

The UC Berkeley “Copyright Resources” website refers the campus community to the list of legal alternatives maintained by EDUCAUSE. The Student Technology Services “File Sharing & Copyright FAQ” also includes a list of legal options.