Security Awareness

Software Copyright FAQ

Software Copyright

 

Software Copyright

I want to be able to take work home, but I don't own the necessary software. Is it OK to make a copy?

If the software is licensed by the university, you must determine if the license allows such use and if additional copies are allowed. If you are not sure if this practice is ok, contact the system administrator.

Policy Referenced : Responsible/Acceptable use of Computing and Data Resources (PDF)

Date Revised : 2006-03-28

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Can I share copies of software with co-workers or other departments?

If you purchased your copy the software license will state how many copies can be used at the same time. Only those number of copies can be used. You may make a backup for your own use in case the original is destroyed or fails to work. Any copies made other than those allowed by the software license or the backup copy would be illegal and in violation of the U.S. Copyright Act.

Policy Referenced : Responsible/Acceptable use of Computing and Data Resources (PDF)

Date Revised : 2006-03-28

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How do I know if the software on my office computer is licensed?

You must obtain and read the original license. If you are unable to locate the license, contact your system administrator for assistance. All software should be used within the regulations cited by the license (for example, if the software is licensed for use on a single computer, it must not be installed on other computers). Software license regulations vary for each license.

Policy Referenced : Responsible/Acceptable use of Computing and Data Resources (PDF)

Date Revised : 2006-03-28

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Can I install shareware or public domain software on my computer?

It depends. Some University computers have been configured so that only authorized desktop support personnel can install software. In cases where you are not prohibited from installing software on your computer, the University encourages the use of shareware and public domain software however, the use of such software should be predicated on the fact that it has been scanned for computer viruses. If you are not sure if you can load software on to your computer, contact your desktop support unit.

Policy Referenced : Responsible/Acceptable use of Computing and Data Resources (PDF)

Date Revised : 2006-03-28

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What is "public domain" software?

This means that the software is not subject to any copyright restrictions. It can be copied and shared freely. Software without copyright notice is not necessarily public domain software so be sure you know the software's restrictions before making any copies.

You should be cautious when downloading public domain software to ensure it does not contain any malicious code or spyware.

Policy Referenced : Responsible/Acceptable use of Computing and Data Resources (PDF)

Date Revised : 2006-03-28

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What is "shareware"?

Shareware is copyrighted software that the developer encourages you to copy and distribute to others. This permission is explicitly stated in the documentation or displayed on the computer/web page. The developer of the shareware generally asks for a small donation/fee if you like the software and plan to use it.

You should be cautious when using shareware to ensure that spyware or malicious software is not contained in or has not been bundled into the shareware.

Policy Referenced : Responsible/Acceptable use of Computing and Data Resources (PDF)

Date Revised : 2006-03-28

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What do I need to know about software and the U.S. Copyright Act?

Unless a piece of software has been placed in the public domain, software is protected by copyright law. The owner of a copyright holds exclusive right to the reproduction and distribution of their work. Therefore, it is illegal to copy or distribute software or its documentation without the permission of the copyright owner. If you purchases your copy, however, you may make a backup for your own use in case the original is destroyed or fails to work.

Policy Referenced : Responsible/Acceptable use of Computing and Data Resources (PDF)

Date Revised : 2006-03-28

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May I copy software that is available through facilities on my campus, so that I can use it more conveniently in my own room?

Software purchased by the University is usually licensed. The licenses restrict how and where the software may be legally used by members of the University community. This applies to software installed on hard drives, in pc clusters, software distributed on cd-rom/disk by any campus lending library, and software available on a campus mainframe or network. Some institutional software licenses permit copying for certain circumstances. Consult your campus system administrators if you are unsure about the use of a particular piece of software.

Policy Referenced : Responsible/Acceptable use of Computing and Data Resources (PDF)

Date Revised : 2006-03-28

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Are all software licenses the same?

Restrictions on the use of software are not uniform so it is critical that you read and understand the software license and any accompanying documentation.

Policy Referenced : Responsible/Acceptable use of Computing and Data Resources (PDF)

Date Revised : 2006-03-28

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Isn't it legally "fair use" to copy software if the purpose in sharing it is purely educational?

No. It is illegal for a faculty member or student to copy software for distribution among the members of a class, group or another individual without permission of the author or publisher.

Policy Referenced : Responsible/Acceptable use of Computing and Data Resources (PDF)

Date Revised : 2006-03-28

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If software is not copy-protected, do I have the right to copy it?

Lack of copy-protections does NOT constitute permission to copy software in order to share or sell it.

Policy Referenced : Responsible/Acceptable use of Computing and Data Resources (PDF)

Date Revised : 2006-03-28

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Can I loan software I have purchased and use myself?

Copyright law does not permit you to run your software on two or more computers simultaneously unless the software license specifically allows it. Be sure to read your software license agreement carefully before you use the software. The license will tell you how many copies you are allowed and if the software is restricted to a specific computer.

Policy Referenced : Responsible/Acceptable use of Computing and Data Resources (PDF)

Date Revised : 2006-03-28

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What is "fair use" as it relates to copyright law?

Fair use is one of the most important, and least clear cut, limits to copyright. It permits some use of others' works even without approval. But when? Words like "fair" or "reasonable" cannot be precisely defined, but here are a few benchmarks. Uses that advance public interests such as criticism, education or scholarship are favored -- particularly if little of another's work is copied. Uses that generate income or interfere with a copyright owner's income are not. Fairness also means crediting original artists or authors. (A teacher who copied, without credit, much of another's course materials was found to infringe.) Commercial uses of another's work are also disfavored. For example, anyone who uses, without explicit permission, others' work to suggest that they endorse some commercial product is asking for trouble! Yet, not all commercial uses are forbidden. Most magazines and newspapers are operated for profit; that they are not automatically precluded from fair use has been made clear by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Policy Referenced : Responsible/Acceptable use of Computing and Data Resources (PDF)

Date Revised : 2006-03-28

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