Information Technology

The Maricopa County Community College District provides its students and employees wide access to information and technologies for educational purposes. As a result, users are required to observe Constitutional and other legal mandates aimed at safeguarding equipment, networks, data and software that are acquired and maintained with public funds.

Page Updated 05/05/16

Appendix D: District Policy Statement on the Use of Computer Software

Just as there has been shared responsibility in the development of this policy, so should there be shared responsibility for the resolution of the problems inherent in providing and securing good educational software. Educators have a valid need for quality software and reasonable prices. Hardware developers and/or vendors also must share in the effort to enable educators to make maximum cost-effective use of that equipment. Software authors, developers and vendors are entitled to a fair return on their investment.

10J1. Educators' Responsibilities

Educators need to face the legal and ethical issues involved in copyright laws and publisher license agreements and must accept the responsibility for enforcing adherence to these laws and agreements. Budget constraints do not excuse illegal use of software.

Educators should be prepared to provide software developers or their agents with a written policy statement approved by the Maricopa County Community College District including as a minimum:

  1. A clear requirement that copyright laws and publisher license agreements be observed;
  2. A statement making employees who use Maricopa County Community College District equipment responsible for taking all reasonable precautions to prevent copying or the use of unauthorized copies on Maricopa County Community College District equipment;
  3. An explanation of the steps taken to prevent unauthorized copying or the use of unauthorized copies on Maricopa County Community College District equipment;
  4. A designation of who is authorized to sign software license agreements for the Maricopa County Community College District;
  5. A designation at the campus site level of who is responsible for enforcing the terms of the Maricopa County Community College District policy and terms of licensing agreements.

10J2. Hardware Vendor's Responsibilities

Hardware vendors should assist educators in making maximum cost effective use of the hardware and help in enforcing software copyright laws and license agreements. They should as a minimum:

  1. Make efforts to see that illegal copies of programs are not being distributed by their employees and agents;
  2. Work cooperatively with interested software developers to provide an encryption process which avoids inflexibility but discourages theft.

Software developers and their agents can share responsibility for helping educators observe copyright laws and publishers license agreements by developing sales and pricing policies. Software developers and vendors should as a minimum:

  1. Provide for all software a back-up copy to be used for archival purposes, to be included with every purchase;
  2. Provide for on-approval purchases to allow Maricopa County Community College District to preview the software to ensure that it meets the needs and expectations of the educational institution;
  3. Work in cooperation with hardware vendors to provide an encryption process which avoids inflexibility but discourages theft;
  4. Provide for, and note in advertisements, multiple-copy pricing for Maricopa County Community College District sites with several machines and recognize that multiple copies do not necessarily call for multiple documentation.
  5. All software should be inventoried by the Maricopa County Community College District office.

Provide for, and note in advertisements, network compatible versions of software with pricing structures that recognize the extra costs of development to secure compatibility and recognize the buyer's need for only a single copy of the software.

SOURCE: Governing Board Minutes, December 11, 1984 Motion No. 5816

It is the intent of the Maricopa County Community College District to adhere to the provisions of copyright laws in the area of microcomputer programs. Though there continues to be controversy regarding interpretation of those copyright laws, the following procedures represent a sincere effort to operate legally. We recognize that computer software piracy is a major problem for the industry and that violations of computer copyright laws contribute to higher costs and greater efforts to prevent copies and/or lessen incentives for the development of good educational software. All of these results are detrimental to the development of effective educational uses of microcomputers. Therefore, in an effort to discourage violation of copyright laws and to prevent such illegal activities:

  1. Maricopa County Community College District employees will be expected to adhere to the provisions of Public Law 96-517, Section 7 (b) which amends Section 117 of Title 17 of the United States Code to allow for the making of a back-up copy of computer programs. This states that "...it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided:
    • that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner, or
    • that such a new copy and adaptation is for archival purposes only and that all archival copies are destroyed in the event that continued possession of the computer program should cease to be rightful."
  2. When software is to be used on a disk sharing system, efforts will be made to secure this software from copying.
  3. Illegal copies of copyrighted programs may not be made or used on Maricopa County Community College District equipment.
  4. The Contracts Manager of Maricopa County Community College District is designated as the only individual who may sign license agreements for software. (Each campus of Maricopa County Community College District using the software also should have a signature on a copy of the software agreement for local control.)
  5. The president of each campus of the Maricopa County Community College District is responsible for establishing practices which will enforce this policy at the campus level.
  6. All software will be inventoried by the District Office of Maricopa County Community College District.
  7. It is the policy of the Maricopa County Community College District that no person shall use or cause to be used in the Maricopa County Community College District's microcomputer laboratories any software which does not fall into one of the following categories:
    • It is in the public domain.
    • It is covered by a licensing agreement with the software author, authors, vendor or developer, whichever is applicable.
    • It has been donated to the Maricopa County Community College District and a written record of a bona fide contribution exists.
    • It has been purchased by the Maricopa County Community College District and a record of a bona fide purchase exists.
    • It has been purchased by the user and a record of a bona fide purchase exists.
    • It is being reviewed or demonstrated by the users in order to reach a decision about possible future purchase or request for contribution or licensing.
    • It has been written or developed by a Maricopa County Community College District employee for the specific purpose of being used in the microcomputer laboratory. Full credit should be given to the employee developer by other employee users.

It is also the policy of the Maricopa County Community College District that there be no copying of copyrighted or proprietary programs on computers belonging to the Maricopa County Community Colleges District.

SOURCE: Governing Board Minutes, December 11, 1984 Motion No. 5816

Page Updated 01/23/02

Copyright Law and Computer Software

The 1976 copyright law was deliberately vague about copyright protection for computer software until a congressional committee could complete a study. The law was amended on December 12, 1980 following the receipt of the committee report. The amendment defines computer software as a literary work, which gives software copyright protection immediately upon creation. The amendment also permitted making one archival or back-up copy of each program.

The International Council for Computers in Education (ICCE) issues a "Suggested Policy Statement on Duplicating and Using Computer Software in Academic Settings." The latest edition of that statement appears in Appendix D and is summarized here.

Back-up Copy 

The Copyright Act allows the purchaser of software to:

  • Make one copy of software for archival purposes in case the original is destroyed or damaged through mechanical failure of a computer. However, if the original is sold or given away, the archival copy must be destroyed.
  • Make necessary adaptations to use the program.
  • Add features to the program for specific applications. These improvements may not be sold or given away without the copyright owner's permission.

Computer Laboratories 

In computer laboratories where students and teachers have access to software, the institution should establish procedures that prevent illegal copying of software. Appropriate warning notices should be posted at the supervisor's desk or the sign-in station. A suggested warning notice follows.

  • Software Copying Warning

    • Software is protected by the copyright law and may not be copied without the copyright owner's permission. You are liable for damages resulting from illegal duplication of software.
    • (A short warning notice also should appear on all sign-in or check-out forms.)
  • Computer User Agreement Form

    • As a condition of using the institution's computer equipment, I agree not to use the equipment to duplicate copyrighted software, whether it is my personal copy or is owned by the institution. I assume liability for any copyright infringements caused by me.
    • (Form should be signed and dated by user.)

Multiple Loading 

It is convenient to load one program disk into several computers for simultaneous use of the program. It is unclear if this is legal, but the ICCE Software Guidelines suggest that this should not be allowed. Licenses authorizing multiple loading are available from some publishers.

Networks 

Many educational institutions have local-area networks (LAN) or wide-area networks (WAN) which enable large computers to serve many smaller computers or terminals within the institution. Licenses are required to use software on networks.

Database Downloading 

Downloading involves copying a data transmission from database utility to a user's computer. This shortens the "connect time," which is the basis for most user fees. It also enables the searcher to clean up the data before printing a copy. Databases are copyrightable and copying from a database to a computer appears to be a copyright infringement. The copyright owners generally accept temporary downloading as a fair use as long as only one report is printed and the data is erased after printing the report. The problem centers on long-term retention of data to reuse or to combine to create a local database. Long-term retention for any purpose requires a downloading license. These licenses are offered by most database utilities.

Page Updated 01/23/02

Q&A About Maricopa's Technology Resource Standards

Who is considered an "authorized user" of Maricopa's technology resources?

That is determined at the location where Maricopa's technology resources are being used. Responsible individuals at a college, center or District location decide who is an authorized user, and the decision does not depend solely on whether the user is an employee or student. For example, certain college media centers allow members of the community who are neither students nor employees to have access to workstations, the Internet, and other technology resources. Those individuals would likely be considered authorized users, and would be subject to Maricopa's Technology Resource Standards.

Under Prohibited Conduct Number 3, a user may not install a program that might result in damage to a computer system. If a piece of software is compatible with hardware specifications or my computer's operating system, isn't that enough of a guarantee that the software won't damage the computer system?

Not necessarily. The mere fact that software might be compatible with a particular system does not eliminate the possibility of harm to existing files or applications. If a user has any doubt about the potential effect of installing new software on an existing system, an information technology specialist at the location should be consulted.

  1. Joe Joelson was responsible for publishing his department's information to the Maricopa web. He downloaded to his workstation a new desktop database application he had found on the Internet. This application would allow Joe to publish statistical information directly to his department's website. While installing the application, he was prompted also to install the web server component. The message indicated that Joe needed to do this in order to use the web-publishing feature, so he installed the web server on his workstation.
     
  2. One week later, Joe arrived at work and tried to log onto his workstation. There was no response. He called the Helpdesk, and a technician soon arrived and diagnosed the problem: a computer hacker from Iceland had gained access to Joe's workstation through the web server on his desktop. The hacker erased Joe's hard drive; installing the web server had resulted in damage to a Maricopa computer system.

Can I install my own software--which I want to use for work-related purposes--on my Maricopa computer?

Yes; personal software may be installed---subject to any license, copyright or similar restrictions imposed by the maker of the software--on Maricopa technology resources. However, any use of that software would be subject to the Technology Resource Standards, and limited to Maricopa educational, research, service, operational, and management purposes. In addition, it would be advisable for an employee to remove the personally-owned software from Maricopa technology resources when the software is no longer being used, or when the employee concludes employment with Maricopa. For these and other reasons, a technician at the site should be consulted before personal software is installed.

  1. Sarah Smithers is an expert in word-processing, spreadsheet, and database development, and was just hired to work in an information processing center at a Maricopa community college. At her previous job, Sarah had used the same suite of applications she now found on her new workstation at the college, but she really did not like their functionality. She preferred instead another software's application (which she owned personally). After she checked the license terms for the software she owned--to make sure that the license permitted her to use the applications on her computer at work--Sarah decided to come in early the next day and install those tools at her workstation.
     
  2. Sarah later noticed that her workstation had slowed considerably, and knew that it was due to the extra software she had installed. Soon, her computer response time slowed even more until, finally, Sarah's workstation froze. When she rebooted her machine and opened the word processing application to finish her last assignment for the day, the machine froze again. She rebooted once more, and this time the application would not open at all. The error message indicated: "Not enough memory available to open the application." In fact, Sarah could not open anything on her computer, including her finished work assignments.
     
  3. Sarah explained to a technician that she had installed her preferred software on the workstation; it was obvious to the technician that this was causing the machine to crash. While installing her personal software for Maricopa purposes was permissible, Sarah should have checked with a technician first to ensure that doing so would not damage the system or any data she had there.

Can I give the password for my e-mail account to a co-worker or supervisor in order that he or she can access messages while I'm on vacation?

Disclosing a password to a co-worker or supervisor for such a purpose would not necessarily violate the standards. The Standards make it the user's responsibility to keep a password confidential. Disclosing the password for a limited purpose (such as accessing messages during a vacation) to a colleague who will maintain the password's confidentiality would be permissible under the Standards.

In the distance learning class that I teach, I have students from all over the country. Are they subject to Maricopa's Technology Resource Standards?

By enrolling students in a distance learning offering, a college has deemed each of them an "authorized user," regardless of where the students reside. Those students should become familiar with the Standards.

I occasionally receive unsolicited e-mail, usually sent through "spamming." When I receive such e-mail, am I violating the standards?

A person who receives unsolicited e-mail--including a victim of "spamming"--typically has no more control over the receipt of such messages than one has over the receipt of junk mail at his or her residence. On the other hand, intentionally providing someone a Maricopa e-mail address for the purpose of receiving e-mail that is unrelated to Maricopa's educational, research, service, operational, and management purposes might violate the Standards.

I want to send an e-mail message to a co-worker, suggesting that the two of us meet for lunch; would that violate the Standards?

As with any policies or rules, the Technology Resource Standards should be applied in a reasonable manner. The Standards are based on the assumption that Maricopa technology resources exist for Maricopa purposes--namely, its "educational, research, service, operational, and management purposes." An occasional e-mail message to a co-worker suggesting a luncheon engagement, or something similarly innocuous, is not likely to be the sort of activity that would violate the Standards. Using technology resources for clearly personal--and non-Maricopa--purposes (such as, for example, maintaining an amorous relationship with a co-worker via e-mail) would be an improper use of those resources.

I am a Maricopa employee, and the author of a Maricopa individual website. In my off hours, I sell cleaning supplies, and have created a website advertising my cleaning supply business. Can I create, on my Maricopa website, a link to my own cleaning supply website?

Creating such a link would be use of Maricopa technology to "advertise personal services," and violate the Technology Resource Standards.

My instructor has arranged for the students in our class to participate in a chat room where all of us may exchange thoughts and ideas about what we are learning. All entries in the chat room are supposed to be anonymous--we are not to reveal our identities. Are we violating Prohibited Conduct number 13?

No. That provision of the Standards outlaws "using computing resources in such a way as to wrongfully hide the identity of the user or pose as another person." Since the chat room is intended to solicit anonymous contributions, and is essential to participating fully in the class, the conduct would not be wrongful.

  1. Allan Adams uses Bob Belinski's desktop computer while Bob is away on vacation. Allan is able to access Bob's e-mail account and--in Bob's absence--has sent several e-mail messages under Bob's name to all Maricopa employees. The messages contain derisive epithets about Allan and Bob's supervisor; Allan's intent was for recipients of these messages to think that Bob had sent them. Bob's conduct violated Prohibited Conduct number 13--using technology resources to wrongfully pose as another person.

The beauty of the Internet is that it makes information and images so readily accessible. If I can download information and images from a website, can't I use and distribute them as much as I want to?

Copyright and other legally-recognized rights protect images, music, essays and other means of expression on the Internet. The mere fact that something can be downloaded from the Internet does not by itself allow for its free use and distribution.

  1. Tom Tomeson was a child care assistant at a Maricopa child development center. He was responsible for creating the handouts for each day's educational activity. Tom wanted these to be special for the children attending the activities, so he logged onto the Internet to get some ideas. When he arrived at the Disney site, he saw lots of pictures of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Pluto that he knew the children would love to see. At another site he found some pictures of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. Tom downloaded some of the graphics, and used them in the handouts for the children. In doing so, however, Tom violated the copyright privileges the cartoon studios held in these characters.

Page Updated 01/05/05