Ten ways to combat illegal file sharing

According to Warren Arbogast, founder and president of the Boulder Management Group, which helps higher-education institutions work with technology, most colleges and universities are confused about what needs to be done in order to be HEOA compliant.

“The definition of compliance is fuzzy at best, and because of this, many universities and colleges do not have cohesive plans in place. They tend to go more with a Band-Aid approach, meaning lots of fixes without comprehensive input from other departments,” said Arbogast.

Arbogast urged colleges and universities to first define what compliance means for their campus, then identify key stakeholders (such as IT, legal counsel, copyright agents, student affairs, and residential housing) and involve them in the process, and make sure to involve students and faculty as well.

“Communication is essential,” he said, “both internal and external, such as with vendors and organizations like EDUCAUSE that can help with these issues. So many times I’ve seen IT departments trying to go it alone.”

Another problem that Arbogast pointed to was campus leaders’ opinion that the emphasis on curbing illegal file sharing eventually will wane before any major action needs to be taken.

“Many institutions believe that the issue will just go away, or that thinking up a solution based solely on the IT department will take care of the issue. The notion, despite what many institutions may think, that this issue is dead is false. The recording industry, the film industry, the publishing industry, the game industry, and many more are not out of money and are banding together to take action,” he said.

Friedman presented a list of 10 best practices that have emerged from his company’s work with many higher-education institutions in solving illegal P2P file-sharing issues:

1. Comply with both the letter and spirit of the law. Part of being compliant is not just putting in place technology barriers, but also leveraging teachable moments, employing a three-strikes model (or graduated response) for students, and making sure that the end goal of being HEOA compliant is to build better digital citizens.

2. Involve all key constituencies, such as those who deal with federal funding, student and judicial affairs, legal counsel, residential/housing, IT, campus decision-makers, and students and faculty.

3. Define clear policies that fit your school’s philosophy. For example, will your approach to illegal file sharing be proactive or reactive? What is considered an infraction? How will that infraction be communicated? What sanctions should be in place for when an infraction occurs?

Meris Stansbury

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