The Catholic University of America

Webmasters at the University

Family Educational Rights to Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)
Summary of the Law:
This law regulates the keeping and dissemination of student records at all institutions that receive federal funds or who have students receiving federal funds. Procedures must be in place to allow a student access to student records. Consent must be obtained to release student records to a third party, with certain exceptions contained in the law. Directory information may be released without permission of the student unless the student has specifically requested that said information not be released. Types of information that may be disclosed as directory information include: student's name, degrees and awards received, address, most recent previous institution attended, phone number, participation in officially recognized sports, activities, dates of attendance, major fields of study, e-mail address, class schedule, full- or part-time status, and photograph. Information which may not be released as directory information includes social security number, race/ethnicity or gender.

Required Actions of Webmasters

Webmasters should read and understand the CUA Student Records Policy.

Directory information (even honors and awards!) should not be posted unless the poster or the person presenting the information to be posted has checked to make sure the student has not placed a hold on release of directory information. This can be checked through Cardinal Station. A drawn shade indicates the student has placed a hold. Non-directory, personal information should not be posted unless the student has signed a waiver allowing release. Although photographs are considered directory information, if the post is of just one or two students who are clearly visible in the photo, a Photographic Release and Consent form should be obtained from the student and kept on file. If you are posting a group shot, releases are generally not needed, just be aware of the directory hold issue.

 General Revision of the Copyright Law (1976) and Judicial Improvement Act of 1990
The copyright law gives copyright owners the sole right to reproduce all or part of the work, distribute copies, prepare new (derivative) versions of the work, and perform and display the work publicly. Copyright protection governs "original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression." 17 U.S.C. § 102(a). The law protects unpublished as well as published material.

Required Actions of Webmasters
If the university does not own the copyright to something you are going to post, make sure that there is an exception (licensing, public domain, or fair use) that allows you to post. See Making Copies to work through the checklist. Digital images create special considerations. Please see the resource section below for more on this issue. Do not post sound recordings of popular artists unless permission has been obtained. See the Music Q and A below. See the What you Can Do chart for permissible uses. Note this chart is more for teaching uses than creation of web pages.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504)

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) as amended by the ADAAA of 2008

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in access to private colleges and universities and contains many of the same provisions as the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504). Requires reasonable accommodations (e.g., a modification or adjustment to the status quo inherent in the program or activity) to allow a qualified person with a disability to participate fully in the programs and activities of the university.

Required Actions of Webmasters
If you are posting information about an upcoming event, be sure the include the required accessibility notice statement in all web (and print) materials. Here is the sample statement:

Please contact___________ (event organizer) at _____(phone or email) at least one week prior to the event to request accommodations. In all situations, a good faith effort (up until the time of the event) will be made to provide accommodations.

Even though Topaz includes a flash function, there are issues on making Flash 508 (ADA) compliant. See Flash Accessibility for more on this topic. Note that all CUA web pages now include a speech enabled button at the bottom. This is automatically included on your web page, and you do not need to take any steps to add it. On July 26th, 2010 the Federal Government issued proposed rules clarifying that Title III entities (such as CUA) will have to have accessible web pages, so the future of the web is full accessibility.

Contract law
Factual statements may be interpreted as promises or a contract that someone could ask a court to enforce. For example, if you are posting degree requirements, someone could rely upon those statements. If they relied on the statements to their detriment, they could possibly bring a case of breach of contract against the university.

Required Actions of Webmasters
Be sure to post only accurate and up to date information. Include a link to any official policy at, rather than cutting and pasting the policy on your site. That way, when the policy is updated, the link on your page will still be current. If you are posting course or degree requirements, consider including the following waiver: 

The information listed here generally reflects curriculum as of (date). This information may not be complete and does not constitute a contract or offer to contract. CUA reserves the right to change its curriculum at any time and for any reason, with or without notice. Please check the Enrollment Services Office for the most current information.

Commercial/Financial/Political Activities
Due to the status of CUA as a non-profit institution, commercial activities can have negative tax implications. This includes advertising. The university may not engage in any partisan political activities. In addition,  the university is subject to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, and thus should not collect credit card information over the web. Any collection of credit card information must be done through Wyse terminals on campus.

Required Actions of Webmasters
Avoid linking to sites, and refrain from any overt political endorsement of a particular candidate. Do not ask for any personal information over the web, including SSNs, credit card numbers or other sensitive data. For guidelines and assistance in collecting confidential information, please contact the Information Security Officer at 202-319-6416 or email

Presentations Policy/Mission
As a Catholic institution,  statements made by those acting as agents of the university should honor the university mission.

Required Actions of Webmasters
Check with Public Affairs or the President's Office prior to posting something that may not be in support of the university mission.

Related Policies

Accommodations at University Events

Disability Services for Students

EO Policy

CUA student Records Policy

Copyright Ownership

Copyright Policy

Copyright Guidelines

Political Activity Guidelines

Presentations Policy

Information Assurance

Other Resources


Making Public Events Accessible ***

Introduction to Web Accessiblity

Access Web

ADA Resources Forms and Checklists



FERPA Resources Forms and Checklists

Waivers and Releases (includes photograph waiver and release)


Know your CopyRights**

Copyright and Digital Images**

Making Copies: Student Handout or CoursePacks

Q and A on Copyright

Copyright Resources

Copyright Publications, Videos and Web Tutorials

Q and A on Publishing Works of Art

Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States

Copyright Slider: An interactive version of the public domain/copyright status chart. If you move the arrow on the page to the date and conditions on publication, the boxes on the left will give you information on whether or not permission is needed for use of the work.


Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard


Contact Information at the University for Further Questions

FERPA or Copyright and other legal questionsodonnelm@cua.eduor or (FERPA only)

Information Security

Presentations Issues

ADA issues or or