If I buy a software program, how many machines can I install it on? I don't want to be a software pirate, but I don't understand the legal jargon either!
This question was answered on October 27, 2006. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.
Software companies have been wringing their hands about software piracy since the beginning of the PC revolution, but part of the problem is that they don't make it all that easy to understand the parameters and they often charge prices that encourage piracy.
For the most part, software licenses are granted for use (this means that you don't own the software that you purchased, you are simply given a license to use it) on one machine.
This means that if you want to run program XXX on 3 different machines, you need to buy 3 separate copies This includes Windows, Office or any program that comes pre-installed on a new computer.
Where the confusion comes in is with the "exceptions" that some software companies allow.
For instance, Microsoft Office 2003's retail package license allows you to install the program twice: one copy on your main computer and another on your laptop computer for your exclusive, but non-concurrent use This scenario is predicated on you being the only user of both system and that you would only ever be using one computer at a time.
This license, however, does not extend to the same version of Office if it came pre-loaded on a desktop computer (better known as an OEM version) In those cases, you must purchase an additional program for your laptop.
To make things more confusing, if you purchase the Office 2003 Student & Teacher Edition, Microsoft says: You may install a copy of the Software on three personal computers or other devices in your household for non-commercial use by people who reside in your household.
Here's is what it takes to qualify for the Student & Teacher Edition of Office 2003:
- A full-time or part-time student currently enrolled at an accredited K-12 education institution organized and operated exclusively for the purpose of teaching its students.
- A K-12 student under the age of 18 attending a legally recognized home-schooling program.
- A full-time or part-time student who has completed K-12 educational requirements and is enrolled and taking at least six credit hours in an accredited institution of higher education.
- A full-time or part-time faculty or staff member of an accredited educational institution, working at least 20 hours a week and who has duties related primarily to the education of the institution's students.
- A household member of a person who qualifies.
Many companies have gone to a "validation" process that is required to be performed shortly after the installation (30 days for most Microsoft
products) so that they can check to see if you have already installed the program on another computer.
Software provided by an employer has a completely different set of licensing parameters, so check with your employer's IT department for those details.
If you want to avoid being a pirate, you can always look into "open-source"
software that is available for free, such as Open Office (a Microsoft Office
substitute) available at www.openoffice.org.
About the author
Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on October 27, 2006
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