Computer users must follow copyright laws which also apply to other media such as videos, music cassettes and books.
1. Copyright law
Computer users must also obey copyright laws. When you buy software:
|you do not have the right to give a copy to a friend..|
|you cannot make a copy of the CD with a CD writer and then sell it.|
|you cannot use the software on a network unless the licence allows it.|
|you cannot rent out the software without the permission of the copyright holder.|
|the above may not be considered if the software is considered under shareware|
Software companies take many steps to stop software piracy:
|The licence agreement is usually clearly printed on the packaging.|
|Some games only work if a code is typed in. This code changes each time the program is run and can be found by looking in the manual or using a special code-wheel which comes with the software.|
|Some programs will only run if the CD-ROM is in the CD drive.|
|Some programs will only run if a special piece of hardware called a dongle is plugged into the back of the computer.|
The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) was founded in 1984 by the software
industry and is now supported by over 1,200 companies. It is a not-for-profit organisation
aiming to prevent software piracy and has a policy of prosecuting anyone found to be
breaching copyright law.
FAST also works to educate the public about good software practice and legal requirements.
3. Sample exam question
Describe one way in which the software industry prevents people from copying software
illegally. (2 marks)
Sample answer 1
Don't let anyone get into the computer to copy software by having a password.
Sample answer 2
Some software has a sticker on it telling you it must not be copied.
Sample answer 3
When you buy a game, it comes with a code book. When you run the game, you are asked to type in a code from the book. If you type the wrong code in, the game won't run.
Sample answer 4
They send you to prison if you get caught.
Answer 1 does not answer the question and it would seem that the candidate has not read the question properly. It would not get any marks. Answer 2 correctly states that software comes with a sticker about copyright. It gets one mark for this but for the second mark should have said that it can only be copied in accordance with the licence agreement. Answer 3 is a full answer and deserves two marks. Answer 4 gets one mark for correctly hinting that offenders can be prosecuted. For full marks, the candidate should have said that the software industry has set up an organisation called FAST to try to prevent users from breaking copyright law.
Remember that copying software is illegal. Don't do it!