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Research Services

information technology services

Software Licenses

Each of the Research Services software web pages lists the type of licenses and who is permitted to use the software.   Here, we define the various types of licenses of software at BC.  If you have questions about the software, feel free to contact Research Services (  Each software package has a member of the Research Services staff who has technical expertise for that software.  The Web page describing the software provides the contact information.

The computers on which commercial software can be used depend on the type of licenses offered by individual vendors.  The licenses vary from vendor to vendor and can be confusing.  Some software vendors permit software to be installed only on computers owned by BC, some software can be installed on any system owned by faculty or staff at BC (home systems included), some software can be installed only on computers in a specified department, and some can be installed only on specified computers.   Here are some of the definitions of the various types of software licenses at BC:

Individual License (also called a node-locked license):  The software can be installed and used only on specified computers.   The number of licenses purchased is the number of computers on which it can be installed.  Once installed, software with an individual license can be used on the computer even if it is not connected to a network.  The number of licenses is one indicator of how widely used the software is at Boston College.

Network License (also called a floating license):  The software can be installed on one or more computers.  However, the number of people using the software at any given time is often limited.  Typically, there are a small number of people using the software at any given time, and therefore few licenses are required.  When you start software that has a network license, the software first contacts a license server.  The license server checks to be sure that the maximum number of concurrent users has not been exceeded.  If so, the license server grants the request to use the software.  If the maximum number of users has been reached, the person requesting the software is not permitted to run the software at this time.  Software that uses a network license can only be used on computers that are connected to a network.
Software controlled by a network license can be installed on additional systems without additional cost. Because the number of concurrent users is limited by the license agreement, you may not be able to use the software due to the limit being reached and you may have to try again in a few minutes. If you experience such delays, please contact us.  Sometimes, the problem is solved by asking people to exit the software when they are not using it.  Sometimes, we need to purchase more licenses

Site License: A site license means that the software may be used by any BC faculty, staff, or student on any BC owned computer.  A site license may consist of individual and/or network licenses.  Some site license have more flexibility and may also permit the software to be installed on home computers of BC faculty and staff, or may also permit students to install it on their home computers.

Departmental License:  A departmental license is similar to a site license.  It is just restricted to members of one department.

Some software has additional technical modules that can be purchased.  The number and type of licenses for the technical modules is often different than the number and type for the software itself.  For example, BC owns hundreds of individual licenses for SPSS, but has far fewer licenses for many of the SPSS modules.