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Copyright

Universities are often on the bleeding edge of legality regarding ``fair use'' copying with regard to printed material. Unfortunately, universities are often past the edge of legality when it comes to unlicensed (pirated) software. If you accept copyrighted and licensed software (and have not paid for it or otherwise licensed it) and store it on HSEAS computers, you are placing yourself and your department, and the School, and the UR in a very bad position. The Software Publisher's Association (SPA) will aggressively go after anyone who violates software copyrights. While they may not bother much with an individual with an illegal copy of Lotus 1-2-3, they may go after a department which is known for regularly violating copyright laws, and they will certainly go after a site that makes copyrighted/licensed software available for anonymous FTP. The SPA usually shows up with Federal Marshals, and will physically restrain you and remove you from your computer. They can seize all computing equipment in a department or school, and can retain it until they have finished their audits. The fines and penalties for violations are quite draconian. As noxious as it seems, you are presumed guilty until proven innocent. The SPA needs to see invoices and a paper trail for software, and does not accept (necessarily) the original disks and or manuals as sufficient evidence that you did indeed purchase a particular software package.

The ability of HSEAS users to make materials available via anonymous FTPgif is a serious concern to the systems staff.

Likewise, the ability of users to maintain their own WWW home pages is a concern. By placing copyrighted images, or sounds, for access by others in your WWW home page or in an anonymous FTP area, you may be violating the conditions of that copyright. ASCAP (a music industry organization) will bring legal actions against those who violate music copyright, much like the SPA will seek recompense from software pirates. A kareoke bar in western New York recently was handed a substantial fine for playing music protected by ASCAP without having paid the licensing fee.

Note that some software is copyrighted, but does not require licensing or payment of fees, and may be freely copied and used. The author has specified a copyright in these cases to prevent others from selling these works as their own. Commercial software does require licensing and payment of fees, and may be copied only under certain conditions.


next up previous contents
Next: LiableSlander, Defamation Up: Some Computing Related Legal Previous: Forgery

Del Armstrong
Fri Oct 25 16:31:41 EDT 1996