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Thanks to those who replied to my question about copyright and computer

Here's my original question:
How does fair use apply to computer programs?  If videos can only be used for
instructional purposes, does the same standard apply for computer games?  I
walked into a classroom today and found several students playing a computer
game.  There was one disk, loaded on one computer, so I'm not worried about
that part of the copyright question.  I certainly question the validity of
playing games during school time (they were finished with their work and were
receiving a "reward") but if I'm going to question this teacher's use of time
it must be from a copyright standpoint, not from a educational standpoint.

Paige Ysteboe
Media Specialist
Western Middle School
Elon College, NC 27215

Here are the answers:

You might approach it by checking to see whether your school has a policy
in place about installing/running software on the computers which isn't
owned by the school. If there isn't such a policy, there probably should
be. If your school is asked to produce invoices and licenses for all the
software running on all the machines, the school would be subject to civil
penalties for use of software without clear licensing documentation. In
addition, does the school have a curriculum committee which evaluates
software purchases for relevance to the classroom? If so, they might want
to carry the water on this. :)

While I am not a lawyer, I don't believe the number of people sitting
around watching the software in use on one machine, if that one copy's
legitimately owned, is actionable.

I'd share research and information on appropriate uses of technology
with all teachers in your school. But I don't think you'll find anything
in the copyright that will prevent the use as you describe. Read
the license agreement. Each one is different.

While that would be true if this were an instructional presentation, it
may not be true if this is reward/entertainment. This is likely not a
legal copy of the program (since it is probably also installed on the
kid's computer at home), so that would be the number one tactic here

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