Software Piracy: Unlawful use

Software piracy or unlawful use of licensed software at McGill could lead to serious consequences.

As a university and institution of knowledge development, McGill values intellectual property protection for our community’s innovations. Similarly, all members of our community must comply with copyright law when using any software at McGill. In doing so, there are several challenges to recognize.

What to watch out for

When downloading/installing software, be aware of the following:

  • Many software applications that are free for personal use must be paid for when installed on McGill-managed computers.
  • “Free academic use” usually means that using the software is authorized only for teaching and learning purposes. 
  • Many applications contain a “call-back” feature that will report back to the supplier whenever software is illegally modified for unauthorized use.

Consequences of unlawful use

In certain circumstances, unlawful use may make both the University and the user responsible.

Organizations and individuals may be penalized for this violation, whether it was committed knowingly or not.

In fact, some software providers have taken a proactive approach in pursuing North American companies, including several universities, as these cases represent a significant source of potential revenue.

What you need to do

  • All McGill users must comply with the Responsible use policy and ensure that only authorized software is installed on McGill's computers. Violations to this policy can lead to serious legal or disciplinary consequences, as copyright is protected by law.
  • Read the terms and conditions of any software you install to ensure that your use complies with the restrictions of its license agreement.
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