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Software License Overview

Learn about the university's systemwide software licence agreements and and how you can obtain them.

Each copy of software used at UCSD must be covered by a license agreement. If you buy packaged software, the license agreement is included. Software obtained in other ways must be covered by a department, campus, or university agreement; if not, it's illegal to use it.

Exceptions include:

  • Shareware
  • Public domain software
  • Software developed by the university

In "limited volume software license agreements," the university commits to purchase a minimum number of licenses either initially or during the agreement time period. If the university doesn't meet the commitment, one or more of the following may occur:

  • The university has to pay for unused licenses.
  • The vendor reduces the university discount on future purchases.
  • The agreement is terminated.
  • The agreement is not renewed.

In "unlimited volume software licenses" the university does not commit to buy a minimum number of copies and can distribute the software widely to campus users.

Both types of agreements require the university to adhere to the terms of the agreement, which can include any of the following examples:

  • Time period: Most software license agreements span one to three years; others cover a much longer period of time.
  • Initial or annual payment: This payment enables the vendor to provide a deep discount on the software. Usually, departments that use the software contribute to this payment by recharge. Sometimes the university bears the cost. A few volume software license agreements require only payment for individual purchases, and users are billed directly.
  • Distribution: The vendor either sends copies of the software to a central distribution point on each campus or sends the copies directly to individual users. In all limited volume license agreements and in some unlimited volume agreements, campuses must track the number of copies distributed.
  • Restrictions: Vendors may or may not allow individual faculty members, staff, and students to use the software on their personally owned systems.
  • Software updates and bug fixes: Vendors may provide these free for the first year or include them in a separate maintenance fee. Individual users, participating departments, or the campus may pay for the maintenance fee.
  • Documentation: The vendor, a bookstore, or a central campus distribution point (e.g., UC San Diego Bookstore or Educational Technology Services) provides documentation either separately or as a shrink-wrapped package with the product.
  • Technical support: Depending on the agreement, individual users or designated campus contacts may have access to technical support.

For more information about universitywide license agreements, or to suggest products for universitywide license agreements, contact your campus representative to the Universitywide Advisory Group on Technical Acquisition Support (TAS).