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Software License Acquisition

Find information about buying software that requires a license agreement.


A software license is a contract that gives one party the right to use a computer program owned by another party. The license includes terms such as the duration of the license, permissible location of the software, limited purpose for which the software can be used, and number of users allowed to use the software.

Software licensing contacts

Before you buy software that requires a license

Read these regulations and recommendations:

  • Do not sign software license agreements unless you are a purchasing director or designated professional buyer with the authority to do so. Remember, letters of intent or other written understandings are enforceable as contracts even if signed by people who have no authority to commit funds.

  • Discuss these issues with your purchasing director or designated professional buyer before deciding on a license agreement:
    • Field of use: Whether you intend to use the software for a specific purpose (e.g., research only, not teaching).
    • Transfer, sublicense, assignment, exclusive/ non-exclusive: Whether you want to permit others to use the software.
    • Site licenses, archival copies: Whether you want to be able to make copies, install, and use the software on one machine or on many at the same time.
    • Access to object code/ source code, source code escrow, proprietary rights: Whether you want to be able to customize, modify, reverse engineer, or otherwise customize the software, and who owns the rights to any improvements you may make.
    • Export Administration Act: Whether you expect to be able to export the software to other countries, which is governed by this federal law.
    • Version/ release:. Whether you expect to receive upgrades or new releases, and at what price.
    • Maintenance, renewal, price protection: Whether you expect the licensor to provide training or technical support, for what period of time, and at what price.
    • Fixes/ error correction: Whether or not you expect to pay for correction of bugs.
    • Proprietary rights indemnification: Whether the licensor will be responsible if another person accuses you of infringing on its ownership rights to the software.
Contact Ron Reyes, 534-3086.
Notice: 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, or its use is illegal. Exceptions include: shareware (whose use should be registered as specified by the owner), public domain software, and software developed by the University.