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Illegal Downloading and the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA)

Illegally downloading content from the Internet is the 21st century digital counterpart of plagiarism. Illegally downloading data from the Internet may not seem harmful but it does infringe on copyright laws.

Understanding Copyright

In order to obey the laws, it‘s important to understand what is protected by copyright. In order for an author to have a copyright, their work must be original, creative and be attached to a physical location, including, but not limited to, paper, computers, flash drives, etc.

Digital Copyright Laws

In 1998 the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was passed by Congress. The DMCA makes it illegal to copy or share copyrighted data, everything from music to computer games, if you do not obtain permission from the copyright holder. You can be prosecuted if you illegally share data.

Peer-to-Peer File Sharing

One of the common forms of sharing data, both illegally and legally, is peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing. P2P is when you join a network of users (or even one other person) and share some or all of your data. Illegal P2P usage is when a person shares data, like music, that they do not own the copyright to with a person who also doesn‘t hold the copyright.

The Higher Education Opportunity Act

To help protect students from abusing copyright law and illegally sharing data, Congress has passed the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA). In compliance with the HEOA, Mills has blocked P2P services on both Mills-wireless and the Guest network.

Legal Downloading

If you'd like to legally download content from the Internet, visit the EDUCAUSE webpage of Legal Sources of Online Content for a list of links to different download services.  While many will be for-pay services, there will be some options for free downloads.

For More Information

For information on the Mills College copyright policy, visit this web page:

Mills College Copyright Policy

For information on the HEOA, visit the EDUCAUSE Library

Further Reading on Copyright Law


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Last Updated: 5/26/17