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Copyright on Campus: Computer Software

This guide describes important components of copyright law and their relevance to the academic environment.

Copying Computer Software

Computer software is tangible material and can be copyrighted. The Doctrine of Fair Use applies to computer software just as it does to journal articles, musical compositions, or other protected materials.

Permissible uses of copyrighted software owned by or licensed to the University or its faculty:

  • Copying it by using it in a computer's memory.
  • Making one backup or archival copy.
  • Making adaptations in order to use a particular machine.
  • Lending it.
  • Selling it, in which case the backup or archival copy must be destroyed.

Prohibited uses of copyrighted software:

  • Making copies for gift or sale.
  • Copying a computer program purchased for use at the University in order to use it at home.
  • Copying a computer program purchased for use in one department or school for use in another department or school.