Computer software copyright compliance at UNT
May 3, 2002

 Computer software copyright compliance is a significant issue with the potential to affect all departments and organizational units at the University of North Texas.  The various rules and regulations regarding computer software licensing create a myriad of compliance issues that must be addressed.  The unauthorized use of computer programs and applications is termed “Software piracy.”  Types of piracy include the following: 

Software piracy is illegal, and thus creates a liability for both the individual and an organization.  The penalty for civil copyright infringement is a fine up to $100,000 per title infringed; a willful criminal violation carries fines up to $250,000 per title infringed and up to five years imprisonment. 

UNT has several computer policies and guidelines that assist in computer use and security.  These policies are based on guidelines established by the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR),  the Copyright Act of 1976 (Title 17 of the U.S. Code), and the No Electronic Theft (NET) Act of 1997.  In addition, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act has several provisions governing license usage: it can be found at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=105_cong_bills&docid=f:h2281enr.txt.pdf.

 UNT Policy 3.6.4.4 states that (1) computer software, computer data, and/or software manuals may not be copied or transmitted electronically without appropriate prior consent, and (2) computer installations will take appropriate and reasonable steps to inhibit attempts to obtain unauthorized copies of computer software, computer data, and/or software manuals.  Additionally, UNT Policy 3.10 states “All commercial software and many other digital materials are covered by a copyright of some form. The unauthorized duplication and distribution of software and other copyrighted materials (including copyrighted music, graphics etc) is a violation of copyright law and this policy.” 

UNT’s Internal Audit department also has a good discussion of software license compliance at http://www.unt.edu/audit/software.htm. It gives guidelines on best practices that departments should establish to insure that they comply with applicable state and federal laws and regulations. 

Network managers should insure that all new employees under their supervision receive training on software licensing compliance and attempt to educate the persons they support on copyright issues. This and other written materials on license compliance should be kept on file as a source of information.