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Respecting Intellectual Property Rights

Penn is an academic institution whose members regularly produce and use copyrighted materials. We take seriously our responsibility to respect the intellectual property rights of others. University policies prohibit the use of the University's electronic resources to infringe intellectual property rights, and the University investigates and takes appropriate action when allegations of infringement are brought to our attention.

Copyright infringement takes different forms:

Computer Software

Computer software can frustrate you or liberate you--mostly the latter. Most software used for everyday purposes at Penn is commercial software and is provided by vendors who have the right to expect that users are responsible in acquiring and paying for what they use. Sometimes it can seem easy or advantageous to "borrow" a copy of software someone else has paid for. To do so is theft and puts both the individual and the university at serious risk. We all have a responsibility to keep Penn computers legal.

There are several ways in which what is legally recognized as "software piracy" can come about--sometimes through carelessness more than through any deliberate dishonesty. Somebody in a position of responsibility may 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 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 February, 2000, Temple University paid $100,000 to settle claims of illegal software copyright. In 1997 the City of Philadelphia paid $121,000 to settle similar claims.

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 Penn 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, the Office of Software Licensing negotiates campus-wide site licensing agreements or volume purchase agreements are negotiated. For details, see:
  • 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, as quoted below. If you have questions about this policy contact David Millar, University Information Security Officer at (215) 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.

Digital Music And Video

Digital music and video files allow users to play music and watch videos downloaded over the Internet. The extraordinary power of this capability should be exercised with the following considerations:

(1) Sharing copies of any copyrighted media (virtually all commercially available music and video are protected by copyright) is illegal and

(2) The size of the files and the popularity of the media has caused serious problems at many institutions, where network bandwidth has not been sufficient to support the traffic. At Penn, we are monitoring the impact on network traffic closely and working with campus organizations to promote awareness of safe and legal computing strategies. The following considerations should be kept in mind.

1. File sharing services work by making your machine a network server for other people's benefit. This certainly reduces the network bandwidth available to you to use, most likely slows down the performance of your computer, and it opens a potentially disastrous security hole in your machine. Once you let people from all over the world have access to some of your files, they are then in a position to have damaging access to the whole of your machine. In general, you should exercise caution installing new, untested software on your computer which might open up security vulnerabilities without your knowledge. If you plan to use file sharing software for legal purposes, be sure to configure it properly so that your files are not served on the network.

2. If you copy and share or receive copies of commercial music or video, you are very likely breaking the law by violating the US Copyright Act. Intellectual property owners are aware of this and pursue violators aggressively. If you violate copyright law you have placed yourself in a very vulnerable position, risking criminal and civil penalties including substantial fines.

For details of Penn's regulations and procedures, see the Acceptable Use Policy ( and the PennNet Computer Disconnect Policy (

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.

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

Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 11, November 6, 2001


November 6, 2001
Volume 48 Number 11

The Packard Foundation awards a fellowship to Dr. Max Tegmark of physics and astronomy.
Dr. Antonio Merlo is named director of the Penn Institute for Economic Research.
Dr. Jean Howard has been named the Catherine Bryson Professor.
Dr. Sheila Murnaghan has been named the Alfred Reginald Allen Memorial Professor in Greek.
A special section of Knowledge@Wharton, a Wharton web site, provides Survival Strategies for the Post -Attack Economy.
The University Council meets on Wednesday for the annual reports on the State of the University.
The Trustees approve resolutions and report on finances, facilities, external affairs, neighborhood initiatives, investments and more at their fall meetings.
The Code of Conduct for Penn Apparel Licensees is republished in accordance with its obligation for public accountability.
Respecting intellectual property rights is a responsibility taken seriously by Penn; allegations and infringements are investigated.
A Commitment to Our Community is the theme of the Penn's Way 2002 workplace charitable campaign which has a goal of raising $400,000.