Lincoln University Acceptable Use Policy for
Computing and Network Services
Appendix B: Software Use Policy
Software and Intellectual Rights : FAQs about Using Software : Alternatives to Explore :
Site-Licensed and Bulk-Purchased Software : Shareware : Public Domain Software :
A Final Note
While software enables Users to accomplish many different tasks with computers, Users may not understand the implications of their actions or the restrictions of the U.S. copyright law.
Provided below are select relevant points, regarding the unauthorized copying of software:
- UNAUTHORIZED copying of software is illegal. Copyright law protects software authors and publishers, just as patent law protects inventors.
- UNAUTHORIZED copying of software by individuals can harm the entire academic community. If unauthorized copying proliferates on a campus, the institution may incur legal liability. Also, the institution may find it more difficult to negotiate agreements that would make software more widely and less expensively available to members of the academic community.
- UNAUTHORIZED copying of Software can deprive developers of a fair return for their work, increase prices, reduce the level of future support and enhancement, and inhibit the development of new software products.
Respect for the intellectual work and property of others has traditionally been essential to the mission of colleges and universities. Academic communities, value the free exchange of ideas. Just as they do not tolerate plagiarism, they do not condone the unauthorized copying of software, including programs, applications, databases and Statement of Principle. Therefore, the following statement of principle about intellectual property and the legal and ethical use of software is offered. This "Statement of Principle"-intended for adaptation and use by individual colleges and universities-was developed by the EDUCOM Software Initiative.
Software and Intellectual Rights
Because electronic information is volatile and easily reproduced, respect for the work and personal expression of others is especially critical in computer environments. Violations of authorial integrity, including plagiarism, invasion of privacy, unauthorized access, and trade secret and copyright violations, may be grounds for sanctions against members of the academic community.
FAQs about Using Software
- What do I need to know about software and the U.S. Copyright Act?
Unless it 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 his or her work. Therefore, it is illegal to duplicate or distribute software or its documentation without the permission of the copyright owner. If you have purchased your copy, however, you may make a back-up for your own use in case the original is destroyed or fails to work.
- Can I loan software I have purchased myself?
If your software came with a clearly visible license agreement, or if you signed a registration card, READ THE LICENSE CAREFULLY before you use the software. Some licenses may restrict the use to a specific computer. Copyright law does not permit you to run your software on two or more computers simultaneously unless the license agreement specifically allows it. It may, however, be legal to loan your software to a friend temporarily as long as you do not keep a copy, but the license must specifically state that loaning the software is acceptable.
- If software is not copy-protected, do I have the right to copy it?
Lack of copy-protection does NOT constitute permission to copy software in order to share or sell it. "Non-copy-protected" software enables you to protect your investment by making a backup copy. In offering non-copy-protected software to you the developer or publisher has demonstrated significant trust in your integrity.
- 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 acquired by colleges and universities is licensed. The licenses restrict how and where the software may be legally used by members of the community. This applies to software installed on hard disks in microcomputer clusters, software distributed on disks by a campus lending library, and software available on a campus mainframe or network. Some institutional licenses permit copying for certain purposes. Consult your campus authorities if you are unsure about the use of a particular software product.
- Isn't is 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, without written permission of the author or publisher
Alternatives to Explore
Because software can be expensive, one might believe that they cannot afford to purchase certain programs; however, there are legal alternatives to unauthorized copying of software.
Site-Licensed and Bulk-Purchased Software
The institution may have negotiated agreements that make software available either to use or to purchase at special prices. Consult the OIT for information. Software available through institutional site licenses or bulk purchases is subject to copyright and license restrictions. Copies may not be made or distributed without authorization.
Shareware, or "user-supported" software, is copyrighted software that the developer encourages the user to copy and distribute to others. This permission is explicitly stated in the documentation or displayed on the computer screen. The developer of shareware generally asks for a small donation or registration fee if the user likes the software and plans to use it. By registering, the user may receive further documentation, updates and enhancements. The user is also supporting future software development. Under no circumstances is shareware software to be loaded onto campus labs computers without written permission of OIT.
Public Domain Software
Sometimes authors dedicate their software to the public domain, which means that the software is not subject to any copyright restrictions. It can be copied and shared freely. Software without copyright notice is often, but not necessarily, in the public domain. Before the user copies or distributes software that is not explicitly in the public domain, check with OIT. Under no circumstances is public domain software to be loaded onto campus labs computers without written permission of OIT.
A Final Note
As there are few uniform restrictions on the use of software, users should check carefully each piece of software (commercial, shareware and public domain) and the accompanying documentation. In general, users do not have the right to:
- receive and use unauthorized copies of software, or
- make unauthorized copies of software for others
Any questions not answered by these guidelines should be directed to the OIT, software developer, or software publisher.