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University Software Policy: Notice

The Director of the University Computing Service wishes to remind members of the University of the University's policy on the use of software.

There is continuing pressure from bodies such as the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) and the Software Publishers Association to ensure that all software (both programs and data) used within the University has been legally obtained.

This can mean different things according to the way in which the software is distributed. Many major software packages are sold in individual 'shrink-wrapped' boxes containing individual licences, although some suppliers of bought software may prefer to rely on other proofs of purchase. Much of the software available from the University Computing Service's Software Sales is provided under a site licence which requires the University to record the name of each user, although in a few cases (e.g. VirusScan, Virex) the supplier has agreed to dispense with this requirement. A few products, including Netscape, are freely available either to the academic community or to the world at large. It is the responsibility of the individual in charge of the software installed on each computer to ascertain that every item of software on it has been legally obtained and to keep the necessary authorizations conveniently to hand.

Under UK Copyright Law, the illegal reproduction of software can be subject to civil damages without financial limit and to criminal penalties including fines and imprisonment. If the use of illegal software within the University were discovered, both the person who made the illegal copy and the relevant University authorities would be liable to prosecution for each illegal copy found and the onus would be on them to prove their innocence. There could also be considerable disruption if the plaintiffs obtained a court order authorizing their solicitors to enter the University and remove computers and other evidence.

The Council and the General Board have therefore approved the following Software Policy with which all members of the University are expected to comply:

1. The University of Cambridge and its Colleges use under licence computer software (both programs and data) from a variety of outside companies. The University does not own this software or its related documentation and, unless authorized by the licence, does not have the right to copy it in any way.

2. Whenever and however such software is used (including software mounted on Local Area Networks and multiple machines) University and College students and staff must comply with the licence agreement.

3. The condition in 2 above shall apply not only to software on computers owned by the University and its Colleges but also to software on personal machines owned by individual University and College students and staff insofar as the software is being used for University or College purposes, including student course-work.

All users who obtain software from the Computing Service are already required to sign a statement which says that they are fully aware of the University Software Policy and agree to uphold it. However the Policy applies equally to software which is obtained from other sources but used for University or College purposes, including student course-work.


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Cambridge University Reporter, 2 May 2001
Copyright © 2011 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.