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How do you know if you're violating copyright laws when you're selling or buying software? To find out, look at the guidelines listed below. This list will help you determine if your item is infringing (violating copyright law) or prohibited (not allowed on Half.com). Not allowing these items on the site protects you from liability and helps make Half.com a safe place for trading. Selling or buying any of these items could put you at risk for civil or criminal liability. Your listing could be removed and you may be suspended from Half.com. If you have questions about specific software products, we urge you to directly contact the relevant software company.

For more information about copyrights and trademarks

U.S. Copyright Office
U.S. Trademark Office
U.S. Law on Copyrights
Findlaw - General Law
International Trademark Association - FAQs on Trademarks
Avoiding Trademark, Patent and Copyright Problems (Franklin Pierce Law Center)
FACE (Friends of Copyright Education)

Software on CD-R

Half.com Policy on Software on CD-R:

As a matter of Half.com policy, software on CD-R (including CD-RW) may not be listed on Half.com, unless the seller is the copyright owner and states this in the item description. This means that, among other things, compilations (e.g., multiple software programs on one disk), "freeware" and "shareware" on CD-R may not be listed on Half.com. This policy also means that even lawful software on CD-R is not permitted on Half.com. This following situation illustrates how this might arise.

Example: An individual or small software company decides to release its software on CD-R. The software company sells the software on CD-R on Half.com to Jack. This is permissible because the software company is the copyright owner of the software. Jack now wants to resell the software on CD-R on Half.com. The software on CD-R is "lawful software," but Jack (or anyone other than the software company) is not permitted to list this item on Half.com.

Blank CD-R disks are permitted on Half.com.

Duplicated software

Some people duplicate software on recordable CDs or floppy disks. Selling software that is recorded onto a disk, CD or other medium without the permission of the copyright owner probably is a copyright infringement.

Beta, Test and Evaluation software

Half.com Policy on "Beta," "Test" and "Evaluation" Copies

"Beta," "test," and "evaluation" copies of software (and the like) are preliminary copies that are distributed by software developers strictly for the purpose of evaluation and troubleshooting. It is Half.com's policy that such copies may NOT be offered on the site, regardless of the legality of a particular item, unless the seller is the copyright owner.

Backup Software

Half.com Policy on Backup Software:

As a matter of Half.com policy "backup" or "archival" copies of any software may not be listed on Half.com (including games software, whether on disk, console or cartridge). Half.com is aware that sometimes you may lawfully make a backup copy of software, and in some rare instances, even lawfully sell that backup copy. However, even legally permissible copies of "backup" or "archival" software are not permitted on Half.com.

The policy does not affect the offering of original authentic copies of software. Users are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the laws and license agreement regarding the offering of such items.

OEM software

OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer

  • When computer manufacturers (OEMs) sell computers they often pre-install or bundle software with the computer. The purchaser often gets with the purchase the original software CD-rom discs or floppy discs in a jewel case or plain box. Such software almost always is licensed for use only on the machine on which it is installed and purchased by the user.

    In such cases, you generally cannot sell the software to someone else unless you are also selling them the machine it came on. Anyone selling OEM software without the machine is potentially infringing upon the software company's copyright. Be wary of offers to buy software in jewel cases only with no other original packaging or manuals.

Academic software

"Academic" versions of software generally are sold only for the use of students, faculty or educational institutions. Such software packages often are sold at significantly discounted prices with restrictions on how they can be used and re-sold. These restrictions are usually spelled out in the license agreement that goes with the software.

  • Software companies usually allow academic versions of their software to be sold only by "authorized educational resellers," students, faculty or educational institutions. Those sellers may only sell the software to students, faculty members, educational institutions and others specifically designated by the software company.

    Both the buyer and seller are at risk for infringement if they do not comply with the applicable licensing agreement for the software. If the seller of academic software is not authorized to sell it to third parties (i.e., not an authorized educational reseller, faculty member, student, educational institution or other authorized user) both the seller and buyer could be at risk for infringement.

    If the seller of the academic software is authorized, it usually is not enough for the buyer to simply affirm it is an authorized buyer (e.g., student). Software agreements often require that the seller take steps to ensure that the buyer is qualified. If such steps are not taken and the sale turns out to be unauthorized, there could be liability for infringement.

What About the Berne Convention?

Some users have written to us asking whether the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (sometimes mistakenly referred to as the "Berne Act") allows them to list an otherwise infringing item. The short answer is "no." The Berne Convention is an international treaty that the United States agreed to in 1989. By signing the Berne Convention, the U.S. committed to making certain changes to its copyright law. In fact, even before signing the Berne Convention, the U.S. had made all the necessary changes to its law. The Berne Convention itself is not U.S. law and does not excuse activity which otherwise would violate U.S. copyright law.

For information from associations and companies

Business Software Alliance
Software & Information Industry Association
Adobe Systems
Apple Computer
Corel Corporation
Microsoft Corp.
Network Associates