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Policy on Copying Software: An Important Caution

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that software piracy is a growing problem on college and university campuses (CHE, 10/9/98 "Colleges Need to Get Serious About Stopping Illegal Copying of Computer Software"). Software piracy at academic institutions takes several different forms. One way it happens is when officials allow more software copies to be installed than is permitted by the software license. Another way is when faculty, staff or students carelessly make copies without checking to see if the number of allowable copies has been exceeded. Some people trade copyrighted software, often over the Internet. Such activity subjects the institution and the individuals involved to civil and possibly criminal penalties, as well as unfavorable publicity. In July 1997, the City of Philadelphia paid $121,000 to settle claims of illegal software copying. The Los Angeles Unified School District now faces a proposed five-million-dollar settlement for alleged copyright infringement.

The following practices will help to ensure that illegal software copying does not become a problem:

  • Budget appropriately for your software purchases.
  • Make sure that you are getting the best price for software.Through the Computer Connection in the Penn Bookstore, the University makes the vast majority of software products used on campus available to faculty, staff and students at substantial discounts. Additionally, through ISC's Site License and Volume Discount Program, campus-wide site licensing agreements or volume purchase agreements are negotiated.
  • As new software is purchased, retain licenses, registration and invoices centrally in your department or unit. Periodically audit your computers to ensure that the number of software copies installed falls within the number permitted.

All faculty, students and staff are reminded that the unauthorized copying of licensed computer software is a violation of University policy (reprinted below). If you have questions about this policy, or would like help ensuring that your office complies with this policy, contact David Millar, University Information Security Officer at 898-2172 or

If you know or suspect that serious violation of software copyright is occurring on University computing facilities, you may report what you know anonymously to the Corporate Compliance Office reporting number, 1-888-BEN-TIPS.

-- James J. O'Donnell, Vice Provost for Information Systems and Computing


University Policy on Unauthorized Copying of Copyrighted Software

The University of Pennsylvania does not condone or tolerate the unauthorized copying of licensed computer software by staff, faculty, or students. The University shall adhere to its contractual responsibilities and shall comply with all copyright laws, and expects all members of the University community to do so as well. Members of the University community who violate this policy may be subject to discipline through standard University procedures. An individual or University department engaged in the unauthorized copying or use of software may also face civil suit, criminal charges, and/or penalties and fines. Subject to the facts and circumstances of each case, such individuals or departments shall be solely responsible for their defense and any resulting liability.

Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 8, October 20, 1998