NJIT Steps to Combat the Illegal Sharing of Copyrighted Materials


All members of the NJIT community are bound by U.S. Copyright Law.  This site discusses copyright infringement, and steps the university takes to effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials as required in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008.  

Summary of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008

In 2008, the Higher Education Opportunity Act (“HEOA”) was signed into law as Public Law 110-315. In October 2009, the United States Department of Education published final regulations implementing HEOA. HEOA included several provisions designed to stem unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials (e.g. music, movies, books, etc.). More specifically, these provisions require that NJIT:

  • Provide an annual disclosure to students informing them of federal copyright laws and explaining institutional policies and sanctions related to violations of copyright law;
  • Develop and implement a written plan to effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material by users of the institution’s network; and
  • Periodically review and, to the extent practical, offer legal alternatives for acquiring copyrighted material.

Respect for Copyright

New Jersey Institute of Technology endorses the guidelines set forth by The EDUCOM Code, created in 1987:

Respect for intellectual labor and creativity is vital to academic discourse and enterprise. This principle applies to work of all authors and publishers in all media. It encompasses respect for the right to acknowledgment, right to privacy, and right to determine the form, manner, and terms of publication and distribution. Because electronic information is volatile and easily reproduced, respect for the work and personal expression of others is especially critical in computer environments. Violations of authorial integrity, including plagiarism, invasion of privacy,     unauthorized access, and trade secret and copyright violations may be grounds for sanctions against members of the academic community.

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.   

Current 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 attorney's fees.  For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504 and 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 www.copyright.gov, especially their FAQ's at www.copyright.gov/help/faq/.

Educating and Informing the University Community

The following steps are taken to educate and inform the university community on copyright and intellectual property issues:

  1. Annual notices are distributed to all members of the university community reminding them of their responsibilities under the Acceptable Use Policy for Cyber Resources, with specific reminders in regard to copyright laws and the illegal distribution of copyrighted materials via peer to peer file sharing and other file sharing technologies. 
  2. Orientation sessions for incoming freshman, transfer, and international students include a seminar on NJIT's Acceptable Use Policy for Cyber Resources with specific details on copyright and illegal file sharing. 
  3. Students residing in NJIT residence halls are provided a “Quick-Start Guide” for configuring residence hall network connections.  The Guide references the Acceptable Use Policy for Cyber Resources and repeats a discussion of copyright infringement and the penalties for violating copyright law.
  4. The Technology Support Center maintains a website with a discussion of copyright issues and sources for legal access to copyrighted music and other digital materials.

Technology Deterrents

  1. NJIT currently implements a packet identification and bandwidth shaping technology which attempts to identify Peer to Peer (P2P) traffic and illegal file sharing. When identified the bandwidth of P2P is severely limited and illegal file sharing when possible is blocked entirely.
  2. NJIT employs traffic monitor technology at key points in its network infrastructure, including the network egress point to the Internet. “Top Talkers” on the network are identified and reviewed.  If illegal file sharing is identified then packet identification procedures are added to block it.  If P2P traffic is identified then bandwidth shaping procedures are implemented to limit bandwidth.

Reported Violations and Sanctions

NJIT responds with haste to investigate all reported violations of the Acceptable Use Policy for Cyber Resources in regard to copyright infringement.  This includes Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) infringement claims.  Reported Violations and Sanctions are handled by the Dean of Students relative to all student violations and by the appropriate university officer relative to faculty, staff, and/or university affiliate violations. 

Last Updated: June 24, 2019