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Martha S. Grafton Library

Mary Baldwin University Copyright Policy: Software

Policy statements and guidelines for anyone affiliated with the University who wishes to copy, alter, or perform works that are protected by copyright.


Digital Millennium Copyright Act

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), enacted in 1998, updated copyright law to encompass the growing use of computers and the Internet. To address the concerns of fair use, Congress included specific language that appears to provide certain exemptions for fair use (particularly for nonprofit archives, libraries, and educational institutions).

Basics of the act include the following points:

  • Makes it a crime to circumvent anti-piracy measures built into most commercial software. 
  • Outlaws the manufacture, sale, or distribution of code-cracking devices used to copy software illegally.
  • Permits the cracking of copyright protection devices, but only in order to conduct encryption research, assess product interoperability, and test computer security systems.
  • Provides exemptions from anti-circumvention provisions for nonprofit libraries, archives, and educational institutions under certain circumstances. Note: There must be concrete evidence that someone seeking an exception has suffered harm because of the anti-circumvention provision -- several academic organizations have called for a revision to permit "fair use" of
  • copyrighted material for research and teaching. 
  • Limits Internet service providers from copyright infringement liability for simply transmitting information over the Internet. Service providers, however, are expected to remove material from users Web sites that appear to constitute copyright infringement.
  • Limits liability of nonprofit institutions of higher education (when they serve as on-line service providers and under certain circumstances) for copyright infringement by faculty members or students.
  • States explicitly that "[n]othing in this section shall affect rights, remedies, limitations, or defenses to copyright infringement, including fair use...."

The agent designated to receive and act on copyright violations under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is:

Carol Creager, University Librarian
Grafton Library, Mary Baldwin University
201 E. Frederick St. Staunton, VA 24401

Computer Software

What Guidelines apply to the copying of Computer Software?

Mary Baldwin College negotiates multiple licenses with vendors whenever possible for software products that used to support instructional and administrative activities. Software products that are not licensed to the University may also be used. However, copying is strictly limited except for backup purposes. Whether the software is transferred from the original to a hard disk or to an archival diskette, the backup copy is not to be used at all so long as the other copy is functional. It is not permissible to upload copyrighted software to Internet for downloading.

Common Questions:

Is it permissible to use single-user licensed software on multiple computers for use at the same time?

No. If simultaneous use on multiple computers is necessary, consider the possibility of a site licensing arrangement with the vendor. Another possibility is that the vendor may offer a price break for multiple copies or "lab packs". It is also not permissible to make copies of copyrighted software for individual student or faculty use unless the license specifically allows such a copy.

Is it permissible to make a copy of software licensed or owned by the University for personal use?

No; unless such use is explicitly allowed by the software vendor. Check with OIT if you have questions.

File Sharing

What Guidelines apply to the downloading and sharing of Audio, Video, Software, and other files?

Although file sharing programs are not illegal, they can be used for the illegal downloading and distribution of audio, video, software and other files. Downloading or distributing copyrighted material without permission of the copyright holder is a violation of federal and state law, even if it is not for profit. The College does not censor internet traffic unless it is an appropriate response to an official complaint or in the case of illegal activity. Our refusal to censor network use in no way condones violations of copyright or intellectual property laws.

Universities and colleges have begun to receive notices from organizations such as the Motion Picture Association of America, apparently acting as agents for music, movie, gaming software and other media companies, alleging copyright violations by users of the institution's network. Under the DMCA, once notified, the College is expected to remove material from users Web sites that appears to constitute copyright infringement. The penalties for infringement can be significant, including imprisonment and fines. Even unintentional infringement violates the law.

Network users should be aware that file-sharing programs automatically distribute files and turn on sharing when installed. Mary Baldwin does not endorse the use of any of these applications. Many of these programs also download and install other, often invisible programs that reveal information about individual users, their computers, and their networking activities to third parties. Downloading files from unknown sources greatly increases the risk of receiving a file infected with a virus or worm. Members of the MBC community who use such programs should ensure that they are not violating copyright by default, e.g., by sharing music or other media files or software they have loaded on their computer. For detailed instructions on how to disable file sharing, please see