University officials are finalizing plans to send out an e-mail notice to all students, faculty and staff tomorrow to warn against the dangers of peer-to-peer file sharing.

The mass e-mail is being sent to all members of the University community because of a new law that went into effect this summer. University officials have stressed that the law is the only reason for the e-mail and that it is not meant to target any individual for activities they may, or may not, take part in.

The Higher Education Opportunity Act requires the University to send an e-mail message to members of the University community at least once a year to provide information about illegal file sharing and copyright violations. The law also mandates that colleges include three pieces of information in their communication to students, staff and faculty.

First, the law requires the University to warn about the penalties — both civil and criminal — that could result from illegal file sharing. Additionally, the University must include a summary of what those penalties could include and provide information about its policies regarding copyright infringement and illegal file sharing.

A standard form is available for postsecondary institutions to use in crafting their annual notice. But in an interview last week, Jack Bernard, an assistant general counsel for the University, said the University decided to craft its own unique message.

“Our objectives are really educational,” Bernard said, explaining that University officials didn’t want to be seen as targeting any specific members of the campus community.

“This notice is just a federal requirement and it is not making any assertions whatsoever about the individuals who receive it,” Bernard said in a statement issued earlier this week.

However, University officials have every intention to do whatever is necessary to comply with the Higher Education Opportunity Act, since federal funding could be stripped if the University fails to comply with it.

“The HEOA makes all federal funding to an institution contingent on its good-faith compliance with the HEOA, which is why the University is sending this message to all its constituents,” Bernard said in the same statement.

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