Unless software, including data, has been placed in the public domain, software is protected by the U.S. Copyright Act. This means that it is illegal to duplicate or distribute software or its documentation without the permission of the copyright owner. Software not copy-protected is not necessarily public domain; it may not be copy-protected so that a legal back-up copy may be made. The software license agreement must be referenced concerning legal restrictions as to use of the software and copying of the software.
Just as the academic community cannot tolerate plagiarism, the academic community cannot tolerate the unauthorized copying of computer software and data. McNeese State University has adopted the EDUCAUSE statement of principle about intellectual property and the legal and ethical use of computer software and data.
Because electronic information is volatile and easily produced, respect for the work and personal expression of others is especially critical in computer environments. Violations of authorial integrity, including plagiarism, invasion of privacy, unauthorized access, and trade secret and copyright violations may be grounds for sanctions against members of the academic community. Violators of copyright law may also be held personally liable for any infractions.