April 10, 2012

Consumer Law

Buying and Using Software

What limitations are usually placed on how you use software?

You may not make copies for the use of others. "Others" obviously includes your brother-in-law, your co-workers, your friends, and fellow Internet users.

Does it include other computers you use? That depends. Some licenses are designed to apply to networks, a system of interconnected computers that is in a sense one computing system. Few consumers are buying software for networks, of course. Some lawyers specializing in this field maintain that you are entitled to use software that you buy both on the computer you keep at your desk and your laptop. Presumably you are not using both of these at the same time, though it gets muddier if one is for your use and one is for the use of your high-schooler or spouse.

Other legal experts—many of whom represent software developers—disagree, and say each software license is for use on one machine, period. It wouldn't hurt to see what rights the license actually does grant you, of course, but the point is that many legal experts doubt the legality of some license limitations.

>>Can you copy software legally?
>>What legal terms govern your use of software?
>>What limitations are usually placed on how you use software?
>>Do you have a right to make backup copies?
>>How can you protect yourself as a software consumer?

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