Copyright at Babson

Detailed guide to answer all your questions about copyright issues, for students, faculty and staff.

What do I need to know about the licensing of computer software?

Keep in mind that commercial software use is usually restricted by license. When you buy, install, or use software, you acquire a license to use the software from the company that owns the copyrights and you are legally bound by their agreements. The conditions and restrictions of the license agreements vary from program to program and should be read carefully, especially in regard to copying limitations, permitted uses, prohibited uses, and restrictions.

Depending upon the agreement, the license can be a:

  • license per machine
  • license per individual
  • concurrent license
  • file server license
  • site license

Babson College negotiates site licenses with software vendors for software products that are selected for extensive use to provide the college community with efficient access to these programs that support the curriculum while assuring the copyright owner a fair royalty. What you can do with software is limited by the license for that particular software package.

Software that is not licensed to Babson College may also be licensed and used by individuals.

What are the different types of computer software?

Software Type Copyright Protection Copying Derivative Works Notes
Commercial Protected Single archival copy allowed Not allowed See license agreements for what is permitted
Shareware Protected Single archival copy allowed Not allowed Adopters owe a fee to rights holder
Freeware Protected Single archival copy allowed Allowed, with conditions Distributed for free; author retains rights but freely permits use
Open Source Protected Copying allowed Allowed No distribution restrictions; purpose is to encourage further development of software; version control is maintained for the purpose of tracking improvements and acknowledging contributions
Public Domain Not protected Copying allowed Allowed No distribution restrictions


May I copy computer software?

Copying of commercial software is strictly limited, except for backup purposes. Those that are strictly prohibited include:

  • a friend giving you software to try
  • making a backup of your office software for your home computer, where not specified in the license
  • downloading software from a rogue site
  • buying one copy for the office, but using it on multiple workstations etc.

You may make a copy of computer software that is in the public domain. Unless clearly marked as public domain, assume the software is copyrighted.

You may install software on multiple machines and distribute it to users via a network, providing the number of simultaneous users does not exceed the number of licenses; and the number of machines being used does not exceed the number licensed. A network license may be required for multiple users.