Computer Usage Policy
The University's computing and information technology resources ("computing resources"), like our other resources, are dedicated to the support of our mission of teaching, research, learning and service. Our shared use of these resources requires legal and ethical behavior from all of us. Common sense really comes in handy here. For example, while it may be possible to run screaming down the halls during final exams, it is not permitted. Similarly, activities on our networks that are technically possible may nevertheless be prohibited. Wherever practical, we will apply existing policies and procedures implementing the University's commitment to its mission and to its faculty, students and staff in the analog and the digital environments. For example, the University is committed to academic freedom regardless of the medium of expression: we will handle complaints about the content, display or performance of original digital works by faculty, students or staff in accordance with departmental procedures that address similar complaints in analog contexts. A department without pertinent policies and procedures should create and use them, just as they always have, consistent with this and other University policies. This Policy applies to all users of University computing resources, whether accessing those resources on campus or remotely. Additional policies may apply to specific computers, systems or networks. The resource manager will be able to familiarize you with these. Many laws affect what we can do with computing resources. Here are some examples:
- Libel laws
- Privacy laws
- Intellectual Property laws (copyright and trademark laws)
- Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (prohibits unauthorized access)
- Regents' Rules regarding publishing and public speech
- Regents' Rules regarding ethical behavior
- Contract law (software licenses)
- Laws limiting the use of State resources (no personal financial or other gain).
On the other hand, some laws, such as the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, limit how we manage University resources. Please keep in mind, however, that law is not the only limit on what we can do on a University campus.
A. Ethical and Responsible Use
We all work, study, teach, and learn here together, and because our resources are limited, they must be carefully managed so that they support our mission. No one can consume an unfair share of the resources, or interfere with other people's uses. It is not possible in advance to set specific limits that would cover every case where people's uses may conflict. If you are informed that a use is unreasonable under the circumstances, you will be expected to respond appropriately.
University of Texas System's Standards of Professional Ethics
B. Appropriate Use of Copyrighted Material and Trademarks
The Policy on the Use of Copyrighted Materials requires all members of the University community to follow Copyright law. The UT System provides helpful references explaining, among other things, Fair Use of Copyrighted Materials, Permissible Copying of Software and how to respond to complaints alleging infringement. You are expected to do your best to understand this law and apply it. Users who repeatedly infringe others' rights are subject to termination of their accounts. Similarly, all members of the University community must respect others' rights in their trade and service marks. Such marks may only be used with the permission of the owner. This applies to University (UT System Board of Regents') marks also.
Report copyright infringement to UT Arlington's copyright agent.
Access to computing resources is often restricted in accordance with the purpose to which the resource is dedicated. No one may access a resource without authorization or use it for purposes beyond the scope of authorization. Never share an account, a password or other authentication device.
D. Political Activities
If you are an employee of the University, you may engage in political activities, but not during your work-time or with the use of state resources. Students are similarly restricted from using state resources when they engage in political activity.
The Regents' Rules that apply to advertising on University property are called "solicitation" rules. They apply to advertising on computing resources as well as on other University property. Look around you. Where do you see and not see advertising on campus? Since commercial activities can detract from or distort the University's primary mission of teaching, research and service, solicitation is generally prohibited. The Regents' Rules spell out specific narrow exceptions from the general rule for activities that clearly relate to the University's mission.
While it may be true that advertising produces income, and income in and of itself "helps" us accomplish our mission, such a rationale for accepting advertising would completely defeat any attempt to draw lines between what should and should not be permitted. As a general rule, an activity that would not further our mission except for the revenue it produces will not be considered a related activity.
An example of a related activity is the sale of advertising on the student newspaper's Web page. Another example is advertising of services conducted on campus for the convenience of students, faculty and staff, such as food service or the sale or promotion of our own "products:" courses, plays or other performances, official activities, etc.
An example of unrelated activity would be placing advertising for a vendor's products on the University's main Web site in exchange for financial support from the vendor for the development of the Web site.
Permission to place advertising on any University computing resource must be approved by the appropriate office, and only when it fits within one of the specific exceptions in the Regents Rules where there is a strong likelihood that the activity will significantly benefit the University as a whole.
- World Wide Web
- Email, including list servers, newsgroups, and Internet Relay Chat Members of the university community are encouraged to use email for University-related activities and to facilitate the efficient exchange of useful information. Access to e-mail is a privilege and certain responsibilities accompany that privilege. Users of e-mail are expected to be ethical and responsible in their use.
- For example, you are expected to make efficient use of computing resources, especially avoiding wasteful and disruptive activities such as sending chain letters, broadcast messages or other unwanted material. Keep in mind that an unwanted message may be perceived by the recipient as abusive, threatening, or harassing, especially if repeated. Such communications are or "may be" a serious breach of University policies and law.=
- All Servers All servers must be operated in accordance with this Policy and may be permitted only to the extent that they do not use more than a fair share of the available institutional resources or violate laws such as the Copyright Act. Further, only University employees may authorize the use of University resources. This means that even where University policy may permit a dormitory resident to run a server on his or her own computer connected to the University's network, the student resident would not be permitted to issue accounts on the server, that is, to authorize others to access the server by a logon password or otherwise and thus use the University's computing resources.
- Academic Advising/Student Records. Most student educational records are considered confidential under a special federal law (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 - FERPA). The University cannot permit access to or release of protected student records without the student's consent. Not all student records are protected, however, and some access and release of protected records is permitted under the law. Directory information is an example of student records that are public information and not protected from disclosure unless the student explicitly asks that they be kept private. Directory information includes such things as name, address, e-mail address, major area of study and degrees granted. Details of the law are summarized in UT Austin's '97-'98 Catalog, Appendix C.
- File Retention (Document Destruction). As a State institution, the University must maintain its records in accordance with record retention schedules filed with the Texas State Library, and approved by the State Archives Commission and State Auditor's Office. These schedules apply to electronic documents in the same way they apply to paper documents. Records should be kept only so long as is necessary. Employees must familiarize themselves with the retention periods that apply to the kinds of information they create or receive. Our retention schedules give us the right to dispose of University records so it is important that we follow them and destroy our records in a systematic way. It is not in our best interests to keep information forever or to dispose of information that we should have kept.