In recent years, copyright holders, such as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), have stepped up legal efforts to combat infringement, including targeting college students with increased numbers of copyright infringement notices. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), whose August 2008 revision included a section designed to prevent "Campus-based Digital Theft", Oberlin College is legally required to take measures to remove offending material from the network. Hundreds of Oberlin College students and staff members receive these notices each year, requiring much administrative work and many person-hours in order to track down the violators and ensure proper action has been taken.

Copyrighted material that is illegally distributed over the Internet can take many forms. However, most DMCA notices Oberlin College receives involve music, movies, or television shows being used without permission. While it is not against the law to use a peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing program, it is the distribution method most often cited in DMCA notices.

If you purchase a song or a movie, you have the right to keep a copy of it on your computer for your own use. But if your computer contains P2P software, you may be sharing it with people who have not paid for it. That is copyright infringement and you can be held responsible with serious college, civil and/or criminal penalties.

Changes to Current Policy

CIT is committed to ensuring that all Oberlin College community members follow copyright law. For this reason, beginning November 8, 2010, P2P traffic will be blocked by default. Those wishing access to this tool for legal sharing activities will have the opportunity to opt-in for access.

For more information on the Oberlin’s copyright infringement policy, the recent change to its peer-to-peer file-sharing policy, or the opt-in process, please visit the CIT Wiki.

Copyright Infringement at Oberlin: What Happens if You're Notified

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and other organizations working on behalf of copyright owners, send a notice to the organization's DMCA Agent. Our agent at Oberlin College then makes CIT aware of this notification. We are then required to take measures to have the offending material removed from the network.

Beginning November 8th, 2010, students and staff members that have opted-in for peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing access will be assigned a static IP address that is exempted from the P2P traffic block. If the College receives a valid notification of illegal activity on an exempted address, all addresses registered to the responsible party will be blocked for P2P traffic for the remainder of the academic year.

The responsible party will not be able to obtain any new exemptions for the remainder of the academic year. Students involved in repeated incidents will have their network access disabled for an indefinite period and will be referred to a judicial coordinator for possible Judicial Board action.

Faculty or staff involved in such incidents will have their network access disabled until the material is removed from network access and will be referred to their applicable Department Head for further adjudication.