Software Piracy in Schools

Teachers who use computers may not be aware of it, but it is quite possible that they are running pirated software on the computers they use at school or at home. Their students may be doing the same. On the other hand, they may be well aware of the existence of pirated software and know that it is, strictly speaking, stolen property. According to the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA), one-quarter to one-third of all software used in K-12 schools in the U.S. is illegal. This is one of the major problems facing U.S. schools today. Part of this significant problem is rooted in ignorance, a lack of understanding of what software use is allowed under the law, the high cost of software, and lack of adequate budget to purchase software.

Software is protected by copyright law. The law says that it is illegal to make or distribute copies of copyrighted material, including software, without authorization. If you do so, this is piracy, and you may face not only a civil suit, but also fines of up to $100,000 and jail terms of up to 5 years. So, as a technology coordinator, how do you protect yourself and your school? What steps your school should take to discourage software piracy?

Here are some of the strategies that schools should take to discourage software piracy:

  • Education, education, and education. Provide copyright workshops and classes for administrators, teachers, parents, and students so they understand the copyright law as applies to software and consequence of illegal use of software. Hopefully, this will develop a sense of ethical responsibility for everyone in schools.
  • Establish a clear software policy and make the policy known to administrators, teachers, parents, and students.
  • Develop a software code of ethics. Students and all school personnel must fully aware of the software policy. They must sign and agree to abide by the policy.
  • Appoint a software manager or a committee for keeping records on purchase and software use.
  • Install system protection software that prevents system modification and software installation on school computers.
  • Keep a software log. The log should include records of a program’s date of purchase, license agreement, user, and machine ID.
  • Perform regular audits. Compare the software installed on a machine against purchasing records.
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About Steve Yuen

I am a Professor Emeritus of Instructional Technology and Design at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States.
This entry was posted in Educational Technology. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Software Piracy in Schools

  1. Michelle Johnson says:

    I did not know that most of materials in classrooms today were being pirated. I think this is some valuable information to know and I will use this knowledge in my classroom. Also I like the suggestions that Dr. Yuen suggested ,and I think these tips will help teachers understand what the copy right laws say. Also I think that it would be a good idea to have someone to keep records of what software is coming in the classroom.

  2. Heather Whisenhant says:

    I never realized that most software programs, in classrooms, were pirated. What a shocker!!!! Those tips that Dr.Yuen suggested were full of great ideas that I think will really help teachers. I plan to use all this information in my class in order to make sure I am not using software that is illegal in the United States. I wonder why they do not have some type of computer technician to help and assist with these issues. I am not sure if all teachers are using different programs, but a good idea would to be having the whole school using the same programs so maybe those program owners will give a special education discount for the schools or even school systems.

  3. I think that piracy should be more stressed in schools and classrooms. Children should know that they can face high fines and prison time for these crimes.

    I think that the strategies that Dr.Yuen has given are very helpful, and I did not know about all of these strategies come to think of it.

    Teachers of today should use these helpful tips because I know that I will.

  4. Lisa Mcbeth says:

    Computer Piracy is something that not many people are aware of. I am glad to see that Dr. Steve Yuen posted some rules and strategies to make people more aware of this crime. I have worked in schools and I have see copyright laws posted above the copiers in the library, but I have never seen any copyright laws posted in the computer labs. I believe that all educators need to become aware of this problem and do everything possible to make sure that this crime is not going on in their schools. Not only the educators, but the students as well, need to be made aware of software piracy.

  5. Tawana Alexander says:

    I recall being in middle school. I believe it was the seventh grade. One of our janitors (the two were men) was fired because he was caught downloading pornography on the computers in the computer lab. I always wondered how they caught him, I still do not know. Maybe they had this type of software that is somewhat like this. I believe that all schools should have this with every computer. It is too much out there own computers now a days and children should not be exposed to such. Yes, it is a lot of people (teachers, students, mother and fathers) who are not aware of things like this. I agree that school all around need to learn about this software.

  6. Pingback: Enterprise Software Directory - Best of the Web » Schools may be running pirated software

  7. Tim Bryant says:

    If you try to implement something like this, be prepared for backlash from many of your teachers. Some don’t care if the software is pirated, and you often get the sweet smile and the pleading “can’t we just install it on these computers this once?”.

    Schools are getting hit by software piracy organizations, and teachers need to understand that you need to pay for the software you use, or find an open source alternative. It’s just that simple. If you don’t want to be fined, and have your school owe a ton of money because you were sneaking around installing software, then don’t do it. That program you use at home can’t be installed at the school, it’s not legal, and in my district we lock down computers so that this cannot be done. There are lots of ways to do this, a great program is Deep Freeze. The teacher can install the software, but the next time the computer is rebooted it will no longer be there. It’s the ultimate way to let them use it for one class, but have it immediately removed. If you only have one legal copy of a piece of software, it’s a great solution. Let them install it, use it for that class period, and reboot the machine. Once the machine is rebooted and Deep Freeze restores the image, that software is gone and can be legally installed somewhere else.

    I’m no lawyer, but I do believe this would be a completely legal solution.

  8. Yicketty Yates says:

    If you want to know whether your trick is legal or not… Read the EULA of the software.

    After reading most of the posts though, I have to wonder. Who are you people? The copyright laws in the United States are flawed at the moment and so far all attempts to amend the ridiculous bills in place get defeated by lobby pressure on representatives that get the only side of the story they need along with the paycheck to buy them out.

    Read an EULA and tell me what other industry in history can or has limited the use of it’s products so strictly.

    Plus, would you get paid extra for installing MS-word on 30 machines every day? Nope! (Just use Open Office)

  9. Hope Drummonds says:

    Piracy is an issue that is rarely discussed. I for one had never heard of it until I got into taking IT courses. So I’m pretty sure that teachers who commit the act of piracy are simply unaware of exactly what they’re doing. To prevent this from happening they simply need to be educated on the subject. Now one they’re educated I feel that there should be consequences. My mother has always told me that once you know better you should do better !!!

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