Software Licensing

IS IT recognizes software licensing as an ethical agreement between a software producer and a software user. Licensing agreements are entered into simply by opening or installing a particular software package. Licensing agreements, like copyrights, are ever-present. However, licensing agreements are much easier to violate than copyrights. Normally, copying a page out of a book for a friend to reference is not a copyright infringement. However, if you were to copy the whole book, or that friend were to use the copy to teach, take a class, or run a business - referencing it again and again, this is a violation of copyright law.

Basically, that is the gist of software licensing. You are not copying a single page for a person to reference. In fact, what you are doing when you copy a piece of software is akin to copying a whole book (page for page) so a person can use that book day after day after day. In many cases, software is not just being referenced, it is being used to turn a profit or enhance a person's work in some way.

Because software can be copied in privacy - at your computer, and a book usually would require copying in a public place, software copying is much more rampant. The shame factor is eliminated for those without conscience. Copying software, like copying music and video, deprives the creators (be it an individual artisan, or a large corporation - the ethical issue is the same) of the income they deserve for their labors. IS IT feels it is a breach of ethics to load software illegally and does not accept clients that participate in this practice, or request it to be performed. IS IT feels it is the responsibility of every IT professional to report militant violators of software licensing laws to the Software Publisher's Association and other regulating bodies, and to work toward educating the public and organizations about licensing laws.

IS IT recognizes the following categories of software licensing, and seeks to educate its clientele and all software users as to the distinctions of these categories:

Public Domain Software - freely accessible, freely transferable, and freely alterable software. Little or no support is offered for software of this type and no fees are required for it.

Freeware - free, though sometimes a fee is requested. Support may be available with freeware and it is generally not recommended that you alter it. Also, recognition of the source is usually requested.

Shareware is a DISTRIBUTION concept, not an ownership concept. Shareware is try-before-you buy software, allowing you to test a piece of software for some number of days before purchasing it. The software should then be purchased at the end of the trial period. If you continue to use that software without purchasing a licensed copy, you have stolen it.

Single user license software is to be loaded on ONE machine, or if on a LAN to be limited in use (via policy, or restriction) to one person at a time.

Multi user licensing is required of all packages that are to be loaded on multiple machines or, to be utilized by more than one user at a time, as when run from a networked server.


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