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Just as design is a designer’s creative

property, computer software is intellectual
property that is owned by the people who
created it. Without the expressed permission
of the manufacturer or publisher, it is illegal
to use software no matter how you got it.
That permission almost always takes the
form of a license from the publisher, which
accompanies authorized copies of software.

When you buy software, what you’re really

doing in almost every case is purchasing
a license to use it. Rather than owning the
software, you acquire limited rights to
use, reproduce and distribute the program
according to the terms spelled out in
the license.

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Using software for which you have Illegal software carries Software is an asset: Learn to ■ Don’t permit employees to buy
not acquired a license is wrong. hidden risks. manage it. software directly or charge it to
A program can be installed and Software publishers offer their le- Before anything else, your com- their expense accounts
used on only one computer at a gitimate customers a wide array of pany culture must be one in which
time, although there are usually products and services in addition all your employees understand ■ Ensure that software cannot
provisions allowing you to make to the actual program: user manu- the value of software, learn the be downloaded from the
a “backup” copy for archival or als and other documentation, difference between legal and illegal internet by employees without
disaster-recovery purposes. If you notification of problems, train- use and pledge their commitment special approval
don’t comply with the terms of the ing, support services, repairs and to the proper use of software. To
license—for example, by install- upgrades. A legitimate copy also do this, you must have a clear Whatever your policy, make sure
ing the same copy of a single-user ensures you that you’re getting the statement of policy. The statement that it is included in any infor-
program on several computers— quality product produced by the should express the company’s mation given to new employees,
that’s software piracy. The rightful owner of the program. goals to manage software for distributed to all current employ-
publisher can take legal action maximum benefit, deal only in ees, posted on company bulletin
against you or your business. An illegal copy enjoys none of legally licensed software from an boards and available on company
these benefits. Further, it could authorized dealer and spell out the computer networks. Every
The license isn’t the only way in well be an outdated version of the company’s procedure for acquiring employee needs to acknowledge
which software is protected. software, a test copy with bugs, legal software. An effective soft- the statement of policy and the
Copyright and sometimes patent an improperly made copy that can ware purchase procedure consists consequences of violating it. In
law protect software from unau- damage data or hide a damaging of the following: turn, employers must take steps
thorized copying, distribution virus. Any one of these problems to educate employees on what
and sale. The law also recognizes could quickly escalate into costly ■ Centralize all your purchases constitutes illegal use of software.
the internet and prohibits users damage recovery far more expen- through a single professional
from uploading, downloading or sive than the money you “saved” on your staff
transmitting unauthorized copies by purchasing illegal software.
of software online. An indi- ■ Ensure the software being
vidual who breaks these laws—or Illegal software cheats its creators requested is on the company’s
a company that looks the other way out of their fair reward for the list of supported software
when an employee does—is liable innovation they have created and
to civil and criminal action. The cheats your company out of the ■ Buy only from reputable,
consequences range from public full value of the software. And authorized sellers
embarrassment through adverse it could well damage your data,
publicity to significant civil dam- tarnish your business reputation, ■ Work only with reputable
ages, criminal fines and even subject you to fines or even land application service providers
the possibility of imprisonment. you in prison. In many respects, (ASPs) and ensure you maintain
the most important issue is all relevant licenses and
your integrity. You cannot fairly documentation with that ASP
advocate the protection of what
you create without respecting the ■ Get original user materials
comparable rights of others. (manuals, registration cards,
etc.), licenses and receipts
with each purchase

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Sample Software 6. Any doubts concerning Take inventory of your software. No matter what tools you use,
Management Policy whether any employee may copy Once you have a policy, your next make sure to collect product
1. (Organization) licenses the or use a given software program step is to take inventory of your name, version number and serial
use of computer software from should be raised with a respon- software assets. Only by knowing number for each copy of software
a variety of outside companies. sible manager before proceeding. what programs are installed on installed on each computer.
(Organization) does not own this all the computers in your organi-
software or its related documen- I am fully aware of the software zation—desktops, laptops and You should also take an inventory
tation and, unless authorized by use policies of (Organization) and any copies of programs from of material related to software on
the software developer, does agree to uphold those policies. work installed by employees on your computers, including:
not have the right to reproduce it their home computers—can you
except for backup purposes. ____________________________________ determine how to proceed. An ■ All original CDs or other storage
(Employee signature and date) accurate inventory can answer media used to install the
2. With regard to Client/Server the following questions: programs on your computers
and network applications, (Orga-
nization) employees shall use ■ Are we using the most recent ■ All original manuals and
the software only in accordance or most suitable version of reference documentation
with the license agreements. programs we need?
■ All license documentation
3. (Organization) employees ■ Are we using outdated or
shall not download or upload unnecessary programs that ■ All invoices, proofs of purchase
unauthorized software over can be deleted? and other documents proving
the internet. the legitimacy of your software.
■ Are there other programs we This includes invoices for
4. (Organization) employees should obtain to become more computer systems that were
learning of any misuse of software productive or efficient? sold to you with software
or related documentation already installed.
with the Company shall notify ■ Does each employee have
their manager. the correct set of programs
available to him or her?
5. According to applicable copy-
right law, persons involved in the ■ Are employees properly trained
illegal reproduction of software to use the software we have?
can be subject to civil damages and
criminal penalties. (Organiza- ■ Do we have illegal, unauthorized
tion) does not condone the illegal or unlicensed programs or
duplication of software. (Orga- copies in our business?
nization) employees who make,
acquire or use unauthorized copies
of computer software shall be
disciplined as appropriate under
the circumstances. Such discipline
may include termination.

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Once the inventory is completed, Next, compare the legitimate Follow through on End-user piracy
you should carefully store the copies of software that remain on software management.
End-user piracy occurs when an
documentation, original copies of your computers with the needs Effective software management employee of your company repro-
your software and other material of your company that you identi- is a continual process. You need duces copies of software without
in a secure place. That way, you fied when taking the inventory. to monitor employee adherence, authorization. End-user piracy
can take advantage of services, You can make informed deci- guard against the introduction can take the following forms:
upgrade offers and the like from sions about which software you of illegal software, keep your list
publishers and be more easily legally have that you want to keep, of supported software up to date ■ Using one licensed copy to
able to reinstall software in case upgrade or discard. Programs can and plan ahead for the next three install a program on multiple
of a disaster. be moved from computers where years. It makes sense to have computers
they are not needed to comput- someone within your studio re-
With your inventory in hand, you ers where they are. Programs can sponsible for the process in order ■ Copying disks for installation
can compare the software that’s be upgraded, if necessary, so that to centralize the job. and distribution
installed on your company’s com- everyone is using the version of
puters to what’s allowed under the the program that’s most appropri- Periodically, it’s a good idea to ■ Taking advantage of upgrade
terms of your licenses.(Remember ate for your company. And you can perform spot checks on individual offers without having a
that some licenses allow you to purchase only the new, legitimate computers to make sure illegal legal copy of the version to
make a certain number of copies software you need. software has not been inadver- be upgraded
of a program from a single source, tently or deliberately installed. It
or to have a limited number of Based on the inventory, upgrades, also makes sense to conduct an ■ Acquiring academic or other
employees use the software at the new purchases and input from inventory every year, as you might restricted or nonretail
same time from a network. The employees, you can now create for other valuable assets. When software without a license
original license will tell you how a formal list of the software that employees leave the company, for commercial use
many.) Also remember that simply your company will allow its em- make sure the software they
having an original CD or DVD for ployees to use. It should include worked with remains with your ■ Swapping disks in or outside
the software doesn’t necessarily program names, serial numbers, company and that they do not take the workplace
mean you have authorized copies. version numbers, number of or keep copies. Prevent piracy
Only the original license spells out copies or users permitted by the from damaging the operations or
the terms and gives you the right license, the computers on which integrity of your studio.
to use the software. the copies are installed and plans
to add, upgrade or discard the After you’ve put your software
Once you have identified any software in the future. assets in good order, you’ll still
illegal software copies in your need to monitor your workplace
business, you should delete them for illegal software. There are five
from your computers. This is also common types of end-user piracy,
an ideal time to remind employ- and understanding each will help
ees about the company’s software you and your employees avoid the
policy and the dangers associated problems of illegal software.
with using illegal software.

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Client-server overuse Internet piracy The same purchasing rules should Hard-disk loading

Client-server overuse occurs The software industry plays a apply to online software purchases Hard-disk loading occurs when
when too many employees on a leading role in ensuring that the as for those bought in traditional the business that sells you a new
network are using a central copy internet reaches its full potential. ways. Organizations should have a computer loads illegal copies
of a program at the same time. To date, software publishers have clear policy as to when, whether of software onto its hard disk to
If you have a local-area network contributed in countless ways to or with whose authorization em- make the purchase of the ma-
(LAN) and install programs on the the internet’s success, provid- ployees may download or acquire chine more attractive. The same
server for several people to use, ing the means by which content software from websites. concerns and issues apply when
you have to be sure your license can be created, displayed and you engage a value-added re-
entitles you to do so. If you have exchanged, and providing some Below are some tips to help en- seller (VAR) to sell or install new
more users than allowed by the of the most desired content itself. sure that the public and business- software onto computers in your
license, that’s “overuse.” You can However, intellectual property es are purchasing legal software office. You can avoid purchasing
correct this problem by making theft on the internet constrains on auction sites: such software by ensuring that
sure employees understand the the software industry and sig- all hardware and software pur-
restrictions, by installing “meter- nificantly reduces its positive ■ If a price for a software product chases are centrally coordinated
ing” software that ensures only impact on economies throughout seems too good to be true, through your organization and
the licensed number of users have the world. There are thousands it probably is. all purchases are made through
access or by purchasing another of fraudulent websites selling a reputable suppliers. Most im-
license that covers the number of variety of illegitimate software ■ Be wary of software products portantly, require receipt of all
users you need. products. Internet piracy repre- that come without any original software licenses, disks
sents a serious threat to electronic documentation or manuals. and documentation with every
commerce. hardware purchase.
■ Beware of products that do not
While there are many publish- look genuine, such as those with
ers that offer authorized versions hand-written labels.
of their software for sale online,
there are also numerous pirate ■ Beware of sellers offering to
operations to be aware of on the make “backup”copies.
internet as well:
■ Watch out for products labeled
■ Websites that make software as academic, OEM, NFR or CDR.
available for free downloading
or in exchange for uploaded ■ Be wary of compilations of
programs software titles from different
publishers on a single disk.
■ Internet auction sites that offer
counterfeit, out-of-channel or ■ Do not give out your credit card
nontransferable software details unless you know it’s a
that infringes on copyrights secure transaction.

■ Peer-to-peer networks that ■ Check with organizations such

enable unauthorized transfer of as the Business Software Alliance
copyrighted programs ( should you be-
come a victim of software fraud.

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Software counterfeiting ■ The CD has a gold, blue or
Software counterfeiting is the il- blue-green appearance, as op-
legal duplication and sale of copy- posed to the silver appearance
righted material with the intent of that characterizes legitimate
directly imitating the copyrighted product.
product. In the case of packaged
software, it is common to find ■ The CD contains software from
counterfeit copies of the CDs more than one manufacturer or
incorporating the software pro- programs that are not typically
gram, as well as related packaging, sold as a “suite.”
manuals, license agreements,
labels, registration cards and ■ The software is distributed via
security features. Sometimes it is mail order or online by sellers
clear the product is not legitimate, who fail to provide appropri-
but often it is not. Look for the ate guarantees of legitimate
following warning signs: product.

■ You’re offered software whose The guiding principle: Respect

price appears “too good to intellectual and creative property
be true.” rights—they could be yours.
Designers know from their own
■ The software comes in a CD experience the importance of
jewel case without the packag- respecting intellectual and creative
ing and materials that typi- property rights. Designers also
cally accompany a legitimate know the difference between
product. ownership and use rights. The
design profession should respect
■ The software lacks the manufac- the rights of other professionals
turer’s standard security features. because it is right, because it is the
law and because any failure to do
■ The software lacks an original so undermines the moral standing
license or other materials that of the profession in arguing for
typically accompany legitimate its own rights.
products (original registration
card, manual, etc.).

■ The packaging or materials that

accompany the software have
been copied or are of inferior
print quality.

■ The software is offered on an

auction site.

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AIGA, the professional association for design, is the oldest

and largest membership association for design professionals
engaged in the discipline, practice and culture of designing.
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AIGA | the professional association for design Disclaimer: Legal information is not legal advice.
164 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010 This publication provides information about the
212 807 1990 law designed to help designers safely cope with
their own legal needs. But legal information is
PUBLISHER not the same as legal advice — the application
Richard Grefé, AIGA of law to an individual’s specific circumstances.
Although AIGA goes to great lengths to make sure
our information is accurate and useful, we rec-
ommend that you consult a lawyer if you want
A Client’s Guide to Design:
professional assurance that our information, and
Joanne Stone and Lana Rigsby
your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your
particular situation.
Use of Fonts:
Allan Haley
Contributing editors: Sam Berlow, IN-KIND PAPER PARTNER

Matthew Carter, Jonathan Hoefler, Arctic Paper

Zusana Licko and Frank Martinez
Cover: Munken Polar, 300 g/m
Use of Illustration: Text: Munken Lynx, 130 g/m
Brad Holland and Tammy Shannon
Use of Software: Blanchette Press
Business Software Alliance Richmond, BC, Canada
Sales Tax:
Daniel Abraham and Marci Barbey DESIGN
Grant Design Collaborative, Atlanta
Guide to Copyright:
Tad Crawford
Jerry Burns, StudioBurns, Atlanta
Use of Photography:
Tad Crawford

Standard Form of Agreement for Design Services: Interstate and Filosofia

Jim Faris and Shel Perkins
© 2009 AIGA
First edition published in 2001.