Information Technology and Services

License Agreements

Campus-wide license agreements are usually limited by a maximum number of copies authorized for use. Occasionally a vendor offers an unlimited use license, which, for a fixed fee, allows us to distribute the software to all who wish to use it. Very few software licenses are of this type.

Software Licenses

A software license is a right to use a product under specified terms and conditions. It is usually documented with a certificate or other tangible proof of purchase. It is not the software itself. Under the terms of a volume license agreement, media and documentation are made available as separate purchasable products. Users must acquire a license to use a software product legally. Users who purchase licenses may choose to also buy media and documentation or not, depending on their needs.

Perpetual Licenses

Some licenses are perpetual. This means that when you buy a license for a given product, you own the right to use that version of the product on the specified platform indefinitely. It typically does not give you the right to upgrade the product to a new release. That requires either an additional license upgrade purchase or a maintenance purchase.

Term Licenses

In these cases, you pay an annual fee for the right-to-use. Maintenance is usually included in the fee.


A software package is a retailing concept that bundles the right-to-use license with the media and documentation in a single box, usually shrink-wrapped for security. While usually sold in single units, sometimes packages include multiples, (5, 10, or 20), and may be referred to as multi-user packages or lab packs.

Product Use Rights

Each license agreement includes a specified set of limitations and allowances that define the legal use of the product. Syracuse University must strive to honor these terms or be vulnerable to legal action. No two license agreements are identical, and some companies, for example, Microsoft, define different product use rights for each product. It is the user's responsibility to know and comply with the terms and conditions of the licenses. ITS maintains product use rights information for products it distributes.


Most vendors provide maintenance options on licenses as additional product purchases, either at the time of original purchase of the licenses or later. Maintenance provides upgrade protection for the licenses, in that the user is authorized to upgrade to any new versions of the product that are released during the term of the maintenance contract. Maintenance is always for a specified period of time, usually 1-3 years, and is renewable. The decision to purchase maintenance depends on the cost relative to license upgrades, the frequency of new releases, and the need of the users to stay current.

License Upgrades

Licenses can be upgraded after a new release of the product is issued, usually for a price less than a new license. You must already own a license before you can legally purchase the upgrade to it. Upgrades are of two forms - version upgrades, in which the basis for the upgrade is a license for an earlier version of the same product, or competitive upgrades, in which the basis is a license for a competing product from another vendor. The user must ensure that he/she is able to produce adequate proof of ownership of the prior license before purchasing the upgrade to the license.


Many software publishers use resellers to handle orders based on volume purchase agreements. A reseller acts as a liaison between us, the customer, and the software publisher. The reseller business is highly competitive and operates on thin margins. Some resellers maintain their own inventories, but many procure licenses and related products from wholesale distributors as needed. Resellers are required to keep track of purchases we make through our contracts and also help to resolve licensing and product questions.