UNT Approach to Addressing Copyright Infringement – Summer, 2011
In recent years, the illegal distribution of copyrighted digital material over the internet has become a
significant problem for institutions of higher education. Copyright holders and trade association such
Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America
(MPAA) have been very aggressive in pursuing their rights under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of
1998 (DMCA) and traditional copyright law; employing technological countermeasures such as mapping
and tracking activity on peer to peer file sharing networks (p2p) and “poisoning” those networks with
poor quality or deceptively labeled media; pursing political means of controlling the problem; and
adjusting their business models to better accommodate the realities of the digital environment. Higher
education has been a frequent target of copyright holders and trade associations. The focus on higher
education in regard to copyright infringement may stem from a number of reasons including ambiguity
in the “safe‐harbor” provision in the DMCA since universities act both as an internet service provider
(ISP) and as an organization that hosts and distributes content; the demographics of our community; the
likelihood that universities and university students have limited resources at hand to challenge the
copyright holders on their claims of infringement and tactics; and the possibility that access to financial
aid and other sorts of federal funding to universities provides the copyright holders and trade
associations with potential leverage that they would not have against other organizations and
individuals such as large, commercial internet service providers. Whatever the reason may be for the
heightened scrutiny on higher education, ensuring that the UNT community is adhering to copyright law
and established university policy on the matter is in the best interest of the university. Combating
copyright infringement and ensuring that the university community understands their rights and
responsibilities has been and will continue to be a strategic initiative of CITC.
While we occasionally see instances of p2p activity or receive DMCA take down notices for machines on
the UNT network used by faculty or staff members, the majority of copyright related incidents have
centered on students living in university housing. As such, our efforts and resources have focused on
this segment of the university community. In the summer of 2008, UNT outsourced network services for
students living in university housing to a third party company, Apogee. Apogee maintains a view and
approach to the copyright infringement problem that is consistent with our views and values; however,
since we are not providing network services to students serviced by Apogee, we are extremely limited in
what we can do from a technical standpoint. As a result of this migration, the technical controls we had
implemented to counter copyright infringement might not necessarily be in effect on Apogee’s network.
Our approach to the copyright infringement problem includes the following tactics:
- implementation of policy and procedure to address copyright infringement;
- implementation of education and awareness programs to ensure the UNT community
understands their rights and responsibilities regarding copyright issues;
- employment of technical countermeasures to discourage or stop illegal file sharing on the UNT network; and
- execution of sanctions on those who violate copyright law and university policies.
This is an extremely serious issue. We will to continue to act upon all allegations of copyright
infringement in an efficient manner and make a best faith effort to take proactive actions to address this
Controls and Countermeasures
Policy and Procedure
Current UNT policy addresses copyright infringement in the following ways:
- • Student Code of Conduct, Section IX, Letter D, Items 1 & 2 (18.1.11)
- • Acts Affecting Intellectual Property: The use or distribution of the original work of another (whether copyrighted or not copyrighted) without the express consent of the owner, including but not limited to the unauthorized downloading of copyrighted music and the distribution for commercial purposes or creation of derivative works from written materials created by faculty or staff, without expressed written permission of the originator. The use or distribution of a trademark, including the university trademark, without the expressed written consent of the owner.
- • UNT Computer Use Policy (3.10)
- • Introduction: Intellectual Property: All members of the University community should be
aware that intellectual property laws extend to the electronic environment. Users
should assume that works communicated through the computer network are subject to
copyright laws, unless specifically stated otherwise.
- • Misuse of Computing Resources:Unauthorized duplication and distribution of
commercial software and other copyrighted digital materials. All commercial software
and many other digital materials are covered by a copyright of some form. The
unauthorized duplication and distribution of software and other copyrighted materials
(including copyrighted music, graphics etc) is a violation of copyright law and this policy.
Exceptions to this are specific authorization by the copyright holder or use under the fair
use provisions of the copyright law.
- • UNT Copyright Compliance Policy (16.13.3)
- • Compliance with the DMCA: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), effected in
1998, implements two 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties. It
criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services that are
used to circumvent measures that control access to copyrighted works and criminalizes
the act of circumventing an access control, even when there is no infringement of
copyright itself. It also heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the
Internet. The most common violation of the DMCA that occurs in the university setting
is illegal file sharing, especially of music files. Students and employees of UNT should be
aware that if they violate the DMCA either by illegally sharing copyrighted files, or in any
other way, they could face severe penalties.
- • Copyright Infringement: Anyone who makes unauthorized use of copyrighted material
in a manner that violates the copyright owner’s exclusive rights (except for the
limitations and exemptions described above) is committing copyright infringement and
may be subject to civil and criminal penalties as well as disciplinary action by UNT.
Education and Awareness
Education and awareness regarding copyright infringement is a cooperative effort between CITC,
Student Development, and Housing. We currently employ the following methods to educate the UNT
community about copyright law:
- • Communication from the Acting Vice President for Information Technology and CIO (VPITCIO):
The VPITCIO sends a message to the faculty, staff, and student body each semester regarding
their rights and responsibilities regarding information security. This message strongly addresses
copyright infringement (see appendix).
- • Communication from the Assistant Vice President for Student Development: The Assistant Vice
President for Student Development periodically sends a message to students who reside in
university housing regarding university policy on copyright (see appendix).
- • Brochures and Posters: Brochures that address copyright and other information security
related issues are distributed to students living in university housing each semester, to new
students at orientation, and to various departments for distribution. Posters that address
copyright issues are posted in university housing and other public areas.
- • The Student Tour Educational Website: The UNT Student Tour website,
http://www.unt.edu/helpdesk/studenttour, is advertised to all incoming students to the university and contains information
about the use of p2p software, copyright infringement, and other security issues.
- • WebCT Vista Course on Copyright: CITC has developed an online course to educate students on
their rights and responsibilities regarding copyright issues.
- • UNT Copyright Resources Website (http://copyright.unt.edu) : The Center for Learning
Enhancement, Assessment, and Redesign and the UNT Libraries maintain a website with links to
policies and resources related to copyright.
Technical Counter Measures
UNT currently employs a number of technologies to discourage or detect copyright infringement
through p2p and other means.
- • NetVCR: CITC employs a device known as NetVCR to monitor and record traffic. NetVCR is used
to detect anomalies in UNT’s network traffic often caused by p2p traffic.
- • SourceFire Intrusion Detection System (IDS): CITC uses the SourceFire Intrusion Detection
System (IDS) to monitor network activity on the UNT Network. The SourceFire system has rules
to alert the security team of specific network events related to illegal file sharing.
Outside of the legal implications of copyright infringement, UNT policy and university procedures specify
the following sanctions:
• Information Security Resources Policy (3.6)
- Machines on the campus data communications network will be disconnected if they are
deemed by the Information Resources Security Coordinator to be dangerous to the
remainder of campus or to the Internet in general.
- Penalties for violation of this policy range from loss of computer resource usage
privileges to dismissal from the University, prosecution, and/or civil action. Each case
will be determined separately on its merits. Referrals for legal action will be made
through the Office of the Vice Chancellor and General Counsel.
- If the offender is a faculty member, the procedures to be followed are those specified in
accordance with the UNT Faculty Discipline Policy. (Policy 15.1.33.)
- If the offender is a staff member, the procedures to be followed are those specified in
the Performance Counseling and Discipline Procedure (Policy 18.104.22.168. If the offender is a
student, the procedures to be followed are those specified in the Code of Student
Conduct. If the student in violation of this policy is also an employee of the university,
sanctions may include termination of employment.
• UNT Housing
When a take‐down notice is received from a copyright holder or authorized agent of a
copyright holder, the machine in question is removed from the network and the
infringing material is removed from the machine prior to the restoration of network
access. In addition, the following sanctions are employed by UNT Housing:
- 1st offense in a semester ‐ $100 fine
- 2nd offense in a semester ‐ additional $100 fine, the student is not allowed back
on the network, and the student is sent to Judicial Affairs
• Student Judicial Affairs
After the second instance of copyright infringement during a semester, the student is
sent to Judicial Affairs to have a personal meeting about their conduct. The first time
the student meets with Judicial Affairs, the meeting is largely educational. If a student is
sent to Judicial Affairs a second time for the same offense, the university considers this
to be theft and is dealt with more seriously. The incident is then marked on their
permanent record. Various other disciplinary actions may be taken as appropriate in
accordance with the UNT Student Code of Conduct.
- Students not living in UNT Housing will also be sent to Student Judicial Affairs
after the second offense and will likely face similar punishment.
Responding to Copyright Infringements
When Information Security receives a copyright complaint, we strive to process it as quickly as possible.
The physical location of the machine is found, usually with the help of the CITC Data Communications
department, and then we will assign the Network Manager of that machine a ticket in Remedy (the
official ticketing application for UNT) that includes all information we have on the machine and the
original complaint. The Network Manager will then remove all copyrighted data from that machine,
educate the user about illegal downloading, and close the ticket.
The University will pursue the following avenues to communicate the University’s stance on copyright
- A summary of the University’s stance on copyright infringement, illegal downloading, sanctions
for violating copyright policies and laws, and legal alternatives to downloading of copyright
infringing materials will be distributed with the annual crime statistics report.
- The UNT Helpdesk maintains a list of legal alternatives to illegal downloading and publishes this
on their website.
- The University maintains an education and awareness strategy (see above).
Plan effectiveness and HEOA copyright compliance will be evaluated quarterly and reported to the UNT
Challenges, Gaps, and Opportunities
UNT takes copyright infringement very seriously and has invested a considerable about of resources and
staff time to addressing the problem. In spite of the investment we have made toward reducing the
number of incidents that occur, we still receive a considerable number of complaints from copyright
holders regarding copyright infringement. Most of the complaints we see involve students residing in
university housing on Apogee’s network. We have limited capability to employ technical
countermeasures against copyright infringement since we do not own the network that the students are
using. In addition, technical measures against copyright infringement have proven to be marginally
effective and extremely expensive. The university’s policy in regard to copyright is clear and the
sanctions for breaking copyright policy are appropriate. One area that can be improved is the stance on
copyright in the Student Code of Conduct. Copyright infringement is addressed more in terms of the
distribution of the university’s intellectual property than in terms of the distribution of third party
content through p2p networks. CITC is participating on the committee that is revising the code
expressly to address this issue. Our educational campaign is extensive; however, there are two gaps
that could be addressed. First, there is not a single place that effectively communicates the university’s
stance on copyright infringement. The website, http://copyright.unt.edu, could be expanded to include
the initiatives of CITC and UNT Housing. Second, no representative of the student body is involved in the university’s education and awareness initiatives.