Software Licensing

Copyright & Software Licenses

Software used at the University is covered by copyright law. When the software is purchased in a "shrink-wrapped" package, a license agreement - which defines the terms and conditions of use - is included, along with media and documentation. (Generally the license can be found printed on the envelope containing the diskettes, CD, or other media.) When software is obtained under a departmental agreement, a campuswide agreement or a Universitywide agreement, the terms and conditions of use are contained in the agreement between the vendor and administering University of California unit.

Software users must be aware that use of software products carries with it legal considerations that are part of the larger issue of copyright protection. When software is used at an institution such as UCLA, legal constraints ignored by any user could leave the institution vulnerable to legal penalties and the end user vulnerable to both legal penalties and UCLA disciplinary action. Users, departmental computer support staff, and managers should know the basics of licensing to protect themselves, their department, and UCLA.

There are many sources of useful copyright information, the following are particularly applicable to software license issues, Microsoft Licenses 'How to Tell' Site and  The (Business)Software Alliance.

Software License Agreements

A centrally administered software license agreement is an agreement between a software publisher and an institution, such as UCLA, allowing the distribution and use of a software product in large quantities at the site (i.e. the UCLA campus) for a greatly reduced per unit price. You will often hear such licensing agreements called site licenses, volume discount licenses, or volume purchase agreements.

Loosely defined a software license agreement is a contract between a software VENDOR and a SITE which allows the distribution and use of a specified number of copies of a defined version of a software product by users at the SITE for a substantially reduced unit price. The agreement may also provide maintenance coverage (the rights to use new versions of the software released during the term of the contract). Here at UCLA the SITE may be defined as

  • a single department
  • a group of departments
  • all UCLA departments
  • a participating group of UC campuses
  • all UC campuses

The actual details of UCLA Software License Agreements vary, but typically involve the following:

  • A legally binding agreement between the VENDOR and SITE laying out the specific terms, including eligible users and versions of the product covered, that both parties will adhere to for the duration of the license term (which is typically one year).
  • An initial cash payment to the VENDOR to cover the multi-copy use of the software. This payment is made by the designated SITE administrative office (for most UCLA campus License Agreements this payment is made by OIT-Software Central).
  • Provision for a central distribution point for individual copies of the software, and collection of a pro-rata share of the total cost (pre-payment, distribution, and administration expenses) from individual or departmental purchasers.
  • Provision of a single technical contact at the SITE with access to the VENDOR's technical support resources. This contact point for most UCLA agreements is the OIT-Software Central license agreements coordinator and staff of consultants. End users should first consult with their departmental technical support personnel who then may contact the OIT-Software Central technical support staff.
  • Agreement by the VENDOR to provide software updates and bug fixes as they become available. This generally requires annual maintenance or update payments to the VENDOR.
  • Permission for the institution to download and distribute the software or to direct end users to the VENDOR'S site to download the software.
  • A provision for duplication or purchase of documentation and/or manuals.
  • Maintenance of a complete record of all authorized users of the software at the SITE. For campus license agreements these records are maintained by OIT-Software Central and must include the name and affiliation of the end user.
  • A stipulation with regard to the termination of the agreement Typically when an agreement is terminated, continued use of the software is prohibited and all copies must be either destroyed, delteted from the installed devices, or returned to the central point of distribution.