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Management of Copyrighted Software

Policy and Background

University administrators must be proactive in managing and monitoring the computing software used on the machines in their departments or schools. Mismanagement of this resource may bring a considerable liability to the University. Copying protected software also conflicts with the fundamental values of the University community regarding intellectual property. Information regarding manager responsibility in this area may be found in the University policies and guidelines: and the University's Information Resources Policy.



Specific steps that can be taken to ensure against copyright infringements on computer software include:

Identify the person who will be responsible for software on account or departmental machines. (Where more than one project director exists, designate the network administrator or other purchasing supervisor.)

Whenever economically feasible, encourage staff to purchase computer software through the Purchasing Department or University Stores.

For software distributed through the Purchasing Department or University Stores, retain and file specific evidence of purchase for each piece of software; for example, purchase requisition, purchase order, invoices. (Although University policy requires retention of purchase documents for the current year and the two prior years, retain these documents for the life of the software.)

Where employees install copies of personally owned software on University machines, regardless of how the software was distributed, require them to identify such software for departmental inventory, and encourage them to provide a copy of the purchasing documentation for the departmental records.

For items obtained through shareware distribution mechanisms, retain and file specific evidence of payment made for each piece. (Such shareware usually specifies that if the package is being used in a commercial or work environment, a designated fee must be paid. The University is considered a commercial/work environment, making it likely that the fee is required.)


For all software:


  1. Determine if the software is copyrighted.
  2. If yes, determine if there is a University site license and if so, the specific conditions of the license.
  3. Determine if the conditions of the license are met within your department; for example, number of concurrent users, number of copies.
  4. Maintain inventory records of all software in the department including version number and location on specific machines.
  5. Perform periodic reviews or spot checks to verify that inventory records are current and correct.

Copyright © 1999. University of Michigan Regents



Q. Didn’t my computer come with basic software?

A. No, in most cases. With a few exceptions, most computers purchased in recent years did not come with any software ‘pre-loaded’, just an operating system. CSBS Computing has developed several basic installations for each of the different platforms (PC, MAC, UNIX). These basic installations contain those software programs that have been found to be commonly used throughout the College. For example, a typical basic installation for a PC includes: Win XP, Firefox, Netscape, OfficeScan, Adobe Acrobat Reader, SSH, and the MS Office suite.

Q. Do I have to pay for software?

A. Yes. Most software licenses for faculty and staff computers are the responsibility of the Departments. Software licenses for student computer labs are paid by CSBS Computing (as funded by the Task Force on Academic Computing). The Office of Software Licensing has negotiated many site license agreements that substantially reduce the unit cost of many software. Additional software can be purchased at educational discount prices from the University Bookstore.

Q. What software can I have installed?

A. Pretty much any software. With the exception of operating systems, CSBS Computing does not limit what software users can have installed. Users are free to choose whatever software they need, although CSBS Computing may have some recommendations. A wide range of software is available through the Office of Software Licensing, the Bookstore, or outside sources. The only prerequisite for installing software is that users possess a valid software license for the software they wish to have installed.

Q. How do I get the software installed?

A. Submit a HelpDesk request indicating the desired software. If the software is not already licensed to the user, the user will need to arrange the purchase of a license through the Office of Software Licensing or other source. Users can get computing staff assistance in acquiring or renewing software licenses from on-campus sources by sending a Campus Order or fund transfer to CSBS Computing (indicate the CO# in the HelpDesk request). Alternatively, users can purchase software directly from the source of their choice and provide the media and license to computing staff at the time of installation.



Last Updated: 5/24/18