Licensing

Yes

Respect for intellectual labor and creativity is vital to academic discourse and enterprise. This principle applies to works of all authors and publishers in all media. It encompasses respect for the right to acknowledgement, right to privacy, and right to determine the form, manner, and terms of publication and distribution.

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.

This is a guide to the ethical and legal use of software for members of the academic community. In terms of copyright, software can be broken down into the following classifications:

Commercial software represents the majority of software purchased from software publishers, commercial computer stores, etc. When you buy software, you are actually acquiring a license to use it, not own it. You acquire the license from the company that owns the copyright. The conditions and restrictions of the license agreement vary from program to program and should be read carefully. In general, commercial software licenses stipulate that

  1. the software is covered by copyright,
  2. although one archival copy of the software can be made, the backup copy cannot be used except when the original package fails or is destroyed,
  3. modifications to the software are not allowed,
  4. decompiling (i.e. reverse engineering) of the program code is not allowed without the permission of the copyright holder, and
  5. development of new works built upon the package (derivative works) is not allowed without the permission of the copyright holder.

Shareware software is covered by copyright, as well. When you acquire software under a shareware arrangement, you are actually acquiring a license to use it, not own it. You acquire the license from the individual or company that owns the copyright. The conditions and restrictions of the license agreement vary from program to program and should be read carefully. The copyright holders for shareware allow purchasers to make and distribute copies of the software, but demand that if, after testing the software, you adopt it for use, you must pay for it. In general, shareware software licenses stipulate that (1) the software is covered by copyright, (2) although one archival copy of the software can be made, the backup copy cannot be used except when the original package fails or is destroyed, (3) modifications to the software are not allowed, (4) decompiling (i.e. reverse engineering) of the program code is not allowed without the permission of the copyright holder, and (5) development of new works built upon the package (derivative works) is not allowed without the permission of the copyright holder. Selling software as shareware is a marketing decision, it does not change the legal requirements with respect to copyright. That means that you can make a single archival copy, but you are obliged to pay for all copies adopted for use.

Freeware also is covered by copyright and subject to the conditions defined by the holder of the copyright. The conditions for freeware are in direct opposition to normal copyright restrictions. In general, freeware software licenses stipulate that

  1. the software is covered by copyright,
  2. copies of the software can be made for both archival and distribution purposes but that distribution cannot be for profit,
  3. modifications to the software is allowed and encouraged,
  4. decompiling (i.e. reverse engineering) of the program is allowed without the explicit permission of the copyright holder, and
  5. development of new works built upon the package (derivative works must also be designated as freeware. That means that you cannot take freeware, modify or extend it, and then sell it as commercial or shareware software.

Public domain software comes into being when the original copyright holder explicitly relinquishes all rights to the software. Since under current copyright law, all intellectual works (including software) are protected as soon as they are commited to a medium, for something to be public domain it must clearly be marked as such. Before March 1, 1989, it was assumed that intellectual works were NOT covered by copyright unless the copyright symbol and declaration appeared on the work. With the U.S. adherence to the Berne Convention this presumption hasbeen reversed. Now all works assume copyright protection unless the public domain notification is stated. This means that for public domain software

  1. copyright rights have been relinquished,
  2. software copies can be made for both archival and distribution purposes with no restrictions as to distribution,
  3. modifications to the software are allowed,
  4. decompiling (i.e. reverse engineering) of the program code is allowed, and
  5. development of new works built upon the package (derivative works) is allowed without conditions on the distribution or use of the derivative work.

Information taken from "Using Software: A Guide To The Ethical and Legal Use of Software for Members of the Academic Community."

Contact Information

Information Technology Services
University Center 117
5998 Alcalá Park
San Diego, CA 92110

Phone: (619) 260-7900
help@sandiego.edu

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