Section 1300: Information Technology

Effective: January 26, 1986
Revised: October 2016
Review Date: October 2018
Responsible Party: Chief Information Officer


"Computer software" includes, but is not limited to, purchased or commercial software, sound, graphics, images, or datasets; shareware; freeware; and electronically stored documentation and the media that hold it. Not included in the definition as used in this policy are non-copyrighted computer data files that have no significance beyond the individual or department.


Under federal copyright law, it is illegal to make a copy of computer software, except for archival or back-up purposes (unless special conditions have been put in place by the copyright owner), without the permission of the copyright holder. Therefore, unauthorized copying of computer software or its documentation is illegal, and individuals who break this law can be subject to civil and criminal penalties, including fines and imprisonment. Further, employees who violate this policy will be subject to appropriate University disciplinary actions up to and including termination of employment.

Any use of MSU-Northern information technology (IT) equipment that violates copyright law or licensure contracts, that compromises or attempts to compromise the integrity of MSU-Northern-based or any other computer and/or network systems, or that involves illegal activity is forbidden and may subject the user to criminal, civil, and/or MSU-Northern sanctions. All use of MSU-Northern's software must comply with all copyright laws and with the terms of the license granted by the software owner, including any prohibitions against simultaneous use on multiple computers. Unauthorized use or copying of any software (MSU-Northern-owned or personally-owned) is not permitted on any MSU-Northern IT equipment.

This policy covers computer software which has been purchased by, acquired by, donated to, and/or licensed to MSU-Northern and includes software that is bundled with, or preloaded on, computer systems purchased by MSU-Northern. It also includes software downloaded from networks (including the Internet), and in those instances it is important for MSU-Northern users and departments to ensure that any such commercial software may legally be downloaded, that the software is freeware or that the software is in the public domain. MSU-Northern and individuals must comply with all terms and conditions of downloaded software.


It is the policy of the MSU-Northern to comply with copyright laws and the license agreements of vendors or authors of computer software. No illegally obtained or illegally copied (aka "pirated") computer software is allowed to be installed on MSU-Northern IT equipment. Anyone who causes unauthorized computer software to be installed or loaded on MSU-Northern IT equipment is in violation of this policy.

Whenever an employee, student, contractor of services to MSU-Northern, or visitor to the campus, in connection with their role at MSU-Northern, receives a copy of computer software from MSU-Northern, requests software to be loaded or installed on an MSU-Northern computer, or loads or installs computer software on an MSU-Northern computer, must abide by the stipulations included in the license agreements associated with that computer software. It is the responsibility of anyone requesting installation of, or installing or loading, computer software onto an MSU-Northern computer to be familiar with the license agreements for that software, as documented by the vendor. Individual employees are accountable for software they load or install on MSU-Northern computers or which they supply for loading or installing on university computers. They also are accountable for any existing software on MSU-Northern computers over which they have control.

The installation or use of non-MSU-Northern software on MSU-Northern computers is prohibited unless approved in writing by the Chief Information Officer (CIO). Non-MSU-Northern software will not be supported by ITS. The non-MSU-Northern software should be free of viruses, and/or other destructive or disruptive mechanisms, and must be used for legitimate MSU-Northern purposes directly related to MSU-Northern's instruction, research and service activities.

Taking MSU-Northern-owned computer software home or elsewhere off campus to use on a non-MSU-Northern computer, even if the purpose is to perform MSU-Northern-related work, is prohibited unless such use is authorized in writing by the CIO and is permitted in the license agreement associated with the computer software. This constitutes theft of MSU-Northern property. In addition to University disciplinary actions, individuals will be subject to appropriate civil and criminal penalties.


References: Montana Board of Regents of Higher Education policy 1901.1 Unauthorized Copying and Use of Computer Software.