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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. Both the person who made the illegal copy and the relevant University authorities would be liable to prosecution for each illegal copy found. The Council and the General Board have accordingly approved the following Software Policy in regard to computer software licensed by the University of Cambridge and its Colleges 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 staff and students 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 staff and students insofar as the software is being used for University or College purposes, including student course-work.

Procedures for managing software licences

4. Responsibility. Heads of institutions are responsible for ensuring that all software used within the institution and stored on computers for which the institution is responsible has been properly obtained and is being used within the terms of the software licence. The following paragraphs recommend the steps which need to be taken to ensure that any reasonable legal challenge can be met.

5. Appointment of a responsible officer. The Head of the institution should appoint a member of staff (the Software Licence Manager) to be formally responsible to the Head of the institution for software licence management and compliance.

6. Software licence inventory. The Software Licence Manager should maintain an inventory of software licences held by the institution. The following information should be recorded for each item of licensed software:

  • the name, platform, and version number of the software,
  • the number of copies purchased,
  • the date purchased and purchase order reference,
  • the location of the software licence (if a paper licence was issued),
  • the location (or IP address) of the system or systems on which the software is stored,
  • any restrictions on the licensed use of the software.

7. Software licence storage. As far as is practical, software licences should be stored in one place in the institution.

8. Software procurement. Institutional purchasing procedures should ensure that the software licence inventory is updated accordingly whenever licensed software is purchased. In a small Faculty or Department or other institution this might be accomplished by requiring all software purchases to be made by the Software Licence Manager. In a large Faculty, Department, or other institution, more flexible procedures may be necessary.

9. Disciplinary procedures. Use of licensed software without a licence or use of software outside the terms of the licence is illegal and must be treated as a disciplinary offence. The Head of the institution is responsible firstly for ensuring that corrective action is taken as soon as an offence comes to light and then for ensuring that appropriate disciplinary action is taken.

10. All users who obtain software from Information Services are required to sign a statement which says that they are fully aware of the University Software Policy and agree to uphold it.

Software obtained privately by individuals

11. Users of software for University or College purposes, including student course-work, which has been obtained privately from other sources must also comply with the terms of the agreement under which that software has been obtained. It is the responsibility of such users to ensure that the necessary authorizations for the software are readily available.

12. All users of University computers must comply with the conditions under which they are permitted access to the computers. Where the access conditions prohibit installation of privately obtained software, this condition must be strictly adhered to.


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