VCSU - HEOA Annual Disclosure


The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) was signed into law on August 14, 2008. Proposed regulations for implementing the Act were issued by the United States Department of Education on August 21, 2009, and final regulations were issued on October 29, 2009. 

Valley City State University is providing you this notice in compliance with that legislation and the Department of Education's regulations in 34 C.F.R. Part 668 (Subpart D).

When signing the University Student Computing Resources Contract and/or registering your network addressable device for use on VCSU's network, you agree to abide by the North Dakota University System procedure 1901.2 Acceptable use Policy and VCSU's addendum to that policy. Specifically with regards to copyright law, you agreed not to use University resources for unauthorized duplication, use, or distribution of copyrighted materials. The University considers peer-to-peer file sharing of copyrighted materials to be an inappropriate use of its network resources. Furthermore, such activity is illegal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and may subject you to civil and criminal penalties.

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 Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at, especially their FAQ's at

Copyright Infringement Notifications

Copyright holders and organizations that represent copyright holders, such as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), typically send out three different types of communications related to copyright infringement:

Cease and desist, or copyright infringement notices (Take Down notices) - The purpose of these notices is to stop the illegal possession and distribution of copyrighted material. 

Pre-litigation notices - These letters are used by copyright holders and their representatives prior to filing a lawsuit to recover, by way of a settlement, financial damages caused by the illegal distribution of copyrighted material. If a network account holder has been identified as participating in the illegal downloading or uploading of copyrighted materials, that individual may receive one of these notices, even if they have already destroyed their copy (or copies) of the material in question.

Subpeonas - These notices indicate the copyright holder has filed a lawsuit to recover damages for the illegal distribution of copyrighted material Those found liable will be subject to fines and penalties.

VCSU Procedures and Policy

When the VCSU IT Security Officer (ITSO) receives a notice from the ND University System Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) agent claiming an alleged copyright violation has occurred and identifying a particular IP address, network activity records are reviewed to independently validate the legitimacy of the complaint. If the complaint appears valid, the user whose IP address has been identified in the notice is notified. The user is given information on what steps must be taken to achieve compliance with VCSU and NDUS policy and a copy of the incident is placed in the student's personal conduct file. Upon completion, the ND University System Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) agent is notified.

Repeat offenders are subject to broader sanctions as imposed by the Vice President for Student Affairs ranging from network access suspension to expulsion from the University.

Compliance Plan


Several methods have been developed to help educate the campus community including faculty, staff and students regarding copyright infringement. Email is sent and web sites post information regarding peer-to-peer (P2P) use and copyright infringement. During annual orientation sessions, videos and powerpoints are shown that discuss copyright infringement, the DMCA and the responsible use of P2P software.

Technology-based deterrents used by VCSU

VCSU follows a vigorous formal, documented, and established procedure of accepting and responding to DMCA notices.

All network addressable devices must be registered with VCSU's Network Services Department before the device is allowed access the the network. The registration process occurs prior to the beginning of each semester and captures the username and MAC address of the device for identification purposes.

Annual Review

The VCSU Information Technology Security Officer and Chief Information Officer will review the effectiveness of the ongoing effort to promote legal use of copyrighted materials on a yearly basis and consider improvements. The volume of DMCA notices received and other relevant data collected by Technology Services staff will be used to determine whether the University remains in compliance or if changes are needed. Any changes to the policy and/or procedures as a result of the review will take effect prior to the following academic year.

Legal Alternatives

Educause maintains a list of sites that offer legal alternatives for use of copyright protected materials. To view the list please click on the following link:

Educause Legal Alternatives