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Ethical and legal issues

Kent State University has negotiated site licenses for several statistical and qualitative software packages. The Kent State University community is bound to uphold those license agreements. Some license agreements permit student use of the software only in computer labs; others permit the use of the software on home and office computers. Careful attention must be paid to the licenses for each software package to ensure compliance.

Although software falls under Copyright law, software is not covered by "fair use" clauses. Software cannot legally be shared, duplicated, or installed on more than the licensed number of computers even if used for educational purposes.

The Copyright Act, Title 17 of the US Code sets forth penalties for software copyright violation. Unknowing use of unlicensed software can lead to statutory damages of up to $100,000 for each instance. Purposeful pirating of software can lead to fines as much as $250,000 and 5 years in jail.