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Copyright, Fair Use & File Sharing: Computer


Is computer software subject to fair use exemptions?

In general fair use does not apply to computer software because: 

  • Computer software must be copied in its entirety in order to work.  
  • Unauthorized copying of computer software has a direct impact on the market value of the work.  
  • The use of computer software is usually governed by a licensing agreement and a breach of it is actionable as a breach of contract even if the breach by itself does not constitute copyright infringement.  

May I make copies of software that I personally own?

Unless the software is copy-protected, you may make a single copy as necessary to use the software on the computer for which it is licensed. You may also keep one copy of the software for backup purposes. However, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it illegal to circumvent any technological protection measures, even if the purpose falls under fair use.

May I make copies of software that is owned by the university?

You may not make copies of software that is owned by the university. Check with Information Technology to inquire about the availability of particular software and the licensing restrictions that apply.

Computer/Internet Use

As outlined in the Alvernia University Copyright & Fair Use Policy, students, faculty and staff are expected to comply with copyright laws. Be aware that legal actions have been taken against individuals using university networks for unlawful purposes and that the university will not protect you from such action. 

May I download music or share files?

It is not legal to download or share copyrighted material, including music or video files, for which you do not hold the copyright. Please see the Alvernia University Annual Copyright Disclosure to Students.