Is it legal to share my personal copy of MS Office with a nonprofit?
March 15, 2010 12:50 PM   Subscribe

I've been told I can legally share my personal copy of packaged software (in this case MS Office) with a non-profit organization as long as they only install it on one machine. Is this true?
posted by carriest to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It depends on the license and the license only, without reading it there's no telling. I've never heard of this specific arrangement, though and believe it to be untrue. In any way if you might get into a situation where you need proof: it depends on the license and the license only :-)
posted by oxit at 12:56 PM on March 15, 2010

IANAL but no, that's not true.

The non-profit organization may be eligible for a free or discounted version, to be negotiated with each vendor individually, but it has nothing to do with whether or not you own a license to the software.

The license you agree to when you install the software, and the license the non-profit agrees to when it installs the software are the contractual obligation each of you has with the software vendor. Therefore you can't make a universal pronouncement about this sort of thing.
posted by MesoFilter at 12:59 PM on March 15, 2010

Best answer: Some MS Office business licenses used to allow a second, non-concurrent use of the software on a home machine. Whether your license allows this, or not, will be explicitly covered in your EULA, which you can re-read at your convenience. If it doesn't, when your serial number is submitted to MS for install verification, it may not verify a second time, and you'll have to convince MS tech support on the phone that you're legit, to get Genuine Advantage security patches and maintenance.
posted by paulsc at 1:00 PM on March 15, 2010

Best answer: My non profit gets all of its (highly discounted) software at I have never heard of buying a commercial MS Office program then being able to share it with a nonprofit (not that it can't be possible, just have always referred non profits to Tech Soup to get their own software).
posted by MsKim at 1:07 PM on March 15, 2010

Tech Soup is great! Definitely check it out.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:17 PM on March 15, 2010

Unless the license says different, this is likely a misunderstanding by someone who's encountered a shareware license in the past, that allows a single copy of the software to be used for personal or non-commercial use without paying the fee -- assuming here that (in good faith) the person in question transmuted "non-commercial" into "not-for-profit" and read "or" as "and".

So I'm sure they were acting in good faith, even if they're wrong. The final authority remains your license for that particular piece of software, however.
posted by davejay at 1:18 PM on March 15, 2010

Best answer: You'd have to read through the EULA to be 100% sure, but I highly doubt you can legally do this. However, Microsoft does offer VERY steeply discounted software to nonprofits. We use Dell for most of our software licensing, and they currently have Office suites for as low as $13 for nonprofits.
posted by joshrholloway at 1:33 PM on March 15, 2010

Anything that sounds similar to "It's legal to download game ROMs as long as you delete them within 24 hours" is probably false.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:54 PM on March 15, 2010

It's not legal. However, Bill has enough $$$. Do the non-profit a favour, and install a copy of Open Office on their PC. It's free (as in beer) and it works well.
posted by humpy at 2:52 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I believe that used to be the case for Office sorts of products. For the exact reason [someone above] mentioned- a worker could use his copy of office on his home machine to finish up work on the weekends. Or the second copy might be on a laptop, used for occasional use in the field. The license was given to one individual, rather than one machine.

But I do not think it works that way any more. It *may* have to do with what version of the software was purchased. It is possible that if you buy the full price version of Office, you get more latitude than with other versions.

But no, in your case, I'm almost certain that's not kosher.
posted by gjc at 5:08 PM on March 15, 2010

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