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Copyright Infringement of Software

What is software piracy, exactly?

It is the unauthorized duplication, distribution or use of computer software -- for example, making more copies of software than the license allows, or installing software licensed for one computer onto multiple computers or a server.

Copying software is an act of copyright infringement, and is subject to civil and criminal penalties. It's illegal whether you use the copied software yourself, give it away, or sell it. And aiding piracy by providing unauthorized access to software or to serial numbers used to register software can also be illegal.

What's the harm in making a few extra copies?

those extra copies are used on university-owned computers, the harm could be great. Software publishers take piracy very seriously, and they have been in touch with SU. The university and the individuals involved could be held liable for large monetary damages. SU could also lose its eligibility for discount pricing on software.

In the larger picture, copying cheats the publisher and everyone who uses the software. It makes software more costly and denies the publisher the sales it needs (and earned) to improve software and finance new projects. In 1997, software piracy cost New York State more than $860 million in lost wages, tax revenue and retail sales, according to a Microsoft study.

How will SU ever find out that I have illegal software?

It happens more often than you might think, through honest employees and students, routine software audits, technology support professionals, network administrators, software publishers and piracy watchdog groups.

Your work computer is university property. So is your connection to the Internet via the campus network. SU is committed to making sure that its computers run legally licensed software, and that its network is not supporting software copyright infringement in any form.

What happens when illegal software is found?

If SU finds out about it from an instructor or student, the matter is usually handled within the university.Software copyright infringement violates numerous SU policies, including:

Discipline ranges from a reprimand to dismissal from SU, depending on the severity of the violation.
If illegal software is reported to a software publisher or piracy watchdog group -- and this has happened -- legal action could be brought against SU and the individuals involved. At minimum, the university would have to prove that it had resolved the problem, which typically requires an intensive software audit within a very short timeframe. Other sanctions could include substantial monetary damages, or exclusion from discount pricing and volume-licensing programs.

My co-workers are copying software, but I don't want to be a tattletale and I'm worried about losing my job. What should I do? Report their actions. By staying silent, you'd violate SU's Standards of Ethical Conduct and could face disciplinary action yourself.

That policy will protect you from your co-workers and anyone else who might be upset by your honesty: "SU will not tolerate retaliation toward or harassment of staff of students who report actual or possible violations. The identity of individuals providing information concerning possible violations, including fraud, will be protected within legal limits."

If your computer came from another source, review the licenses and documentation to verify the software's legitimacy. If you're buying a used computer, all installed software should come with license agreements, registration and original installation disks and manuals. Remove any software that you can't verify.

I require my students to use certain software for assignments. Since I'm using it for educational purposes, I can give them copies, right? No. And there's little chance that the "fair use" argument could be applied to software the way it can to printed materials -- it's generally impossible to install and use only a small piece of a software product.

Better ways to keep costs down for your students: Look into getting a volume discount or site license from the software publisher (check the Software Licensing Services web site first). Find out whether the software is or could be installed in a CIT Public Lab or college computer lab.

I work at home sometimes. Can I copy software from my work computer to my laptop or home computer, since I won't be using both at the same time? Some software publishers allow this use; others don't. Read the license agreement. Some examples: If you purchased Microsoft Office, Publisher, Project or FrontPage through the Microsoft Select program, the license permits you to install a second copy on one laptop or home computer to use for work-related purposes. If you have an Adobe product at work, you can install a second copy on one laptop or home computer, but the product cannot be used on both computers at the same time.

A friend recommended some great software, but the publisher is out of business. Would it be OK to get a copy from my friend? No. All software is copyright-protected, and the copyright is enforceable for 95 years, no matter what. Your best bet is to ask the copyright holder for written permission to copy the software. The U.S. Copyright Office can be helpful in locating the current copyright holder. Search the records yourself, or pay a small fee to have it done.

We have lots of old software sitting around. Can we give it away to schools or charities? Or sell it? Probably, if it's not software you later upgraded. For instance, when you buy a Windows 98 upgrade, the license to the older version is voided, meaning no one else can use it. If you buy the full Windows 98 package instead, you could give away or sell your older version.

In short, you can give away or sell software you are no longer using in any form. If the software is university-owned, review Policy 3.9 (Capital Assets) first. To legally transfer the software, provide the license agreement, registration, original installation disks (or CD) and manuals, and remove all copies of the software from your computers.

I'm leaving SU. Do I have to get rid of any software on my home computer?
You must removeSU owned software, including all SU site-licensed software. Also, if you had software at work that allowed you to install a second copy at home, you must remove that second copy. The one exception is the Macintosh operating system -- SU's site license allows you to keep this software.

You do not have to remove software that you bought, with your own funds, at an educational discount. If you upgrade that software, however, you will have to pay the full price for the upgrade (rather than the educational price).

SU Copyright Policy

SU will not tolerate the unauthorized reproduction of software or otherwise copyrighted material by employees or students. This policy defines software as any electronic copyrighted material, including but not limited to software applications, video, audio, or other date files.

Students must adhere to the contractual obligations of this institution, and are expected to comply with all copyright laws. Any individual found to be in violation of this policy may be subject to discipline and additionally may be held responsible in civil or criminal liability.

Student Expectations: