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2.11 Computer Software

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  1. Statutory exceptions and contract

    The Copyright Act has a special provision that says that three computer software exceptions can never be overridden by contract:

    • the making of back up copies
    • reproduction or adaptation for interoperability
    • decompilation for correcting errors and security testing purposes

    This means you can rely on these exceptions even if the licence specifically prohibits these activities.

  2. Types of Licences

    The purchaser of computer software obtains only limited rights to make use of that software. In this way, the acquisition of computer software differs from the acquisition of other educational materials.

    The purchaser must use the software in accordance with the licence agreement. The licence agreement might be set out on the packet containing the disc, attached to the manual or displayed on the screen. The conditions of the licence must be observed.

    Copyright owners licence their software for different user situations, including:

    • a single computer licence
    • site licences which allow for multiple copies of disks to be made for use on computers within a single school or institution
    • network licences, which allow for the use of software on a computer network

    If the conditions of the licence attached to a piece of computer software do not meet the school/TAFE institute’s needs, the software should not be used and should be returned to the seller. Schools/TAFE institutes should try to negotiate for improved licence conditions at the time of purchase.

    Schools may consider the following licence conditions as a basis for negotiation:

    • the number of machines on which it may be used, that is. single or multi user/s.
    • whether it may be used on a local area network
    • provision of remote access
    • the right to make hard copies of a search and the amount which may be copied
    • the purpose and use of the material
    • the right to electronically store a copy of any search output
    • the making of a copy of the software for archival purposes
    • whether a copy of the CD-Rom may be loaded onto hard disc, for example, some CDs allow the complete file to be downloaded onto a hard disc provided that the CD-Rom is kept on the site and not used simultaneously on another machine
    • whether the software and accompanying documentation can be transferred to another end user (under the terms of a licence, schools cannot sell software to another school, however, the licence can be transferred if the copyright owner agrees)
    • permission to schools to make copies of superseded versions of software at reasonable cost
    • the loan of software for use at home by teachers and students
    • where teachers own programs, whether they are permitted to use programs at school as well as home.


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