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I picked up (and looked at, not purchased) a copy of Office 2007 Home and Student Edition in a store the other day, and it says in fine print under the feature matrix that it's licensed 'not for use in any commercial, non-profit, or revenue generating business activities, or by any government organization'.

By way of contrast, Adobe requires a fairly high standard of proof (current student ID and class schedule) to get an academic copy of their software in stores, and it's subject to activation verification through your school. My wife had to enter her student ID on Adobe's website and they tell you 'We're checking this ID with the school you selected in the dropdown box' right up front. We received a license key 48 hours later. I can understand this, I guess, in Adobe's case, since their retail prices are so ridiculously high...But then Adobe makes no claim that they control the purpose to which you put the software later on, even after you stop being a student.

I know there are many opinions on 'click-wrap' licenses, but this is printed on the outside of the box. Is this enforceable? If so, what happens to a business who uses the Home and Student edition instead of, say, the Small Business Edition of Office?

Is it really legal to charge more for your product in order to use it for one purpose rather than another? I'm guessing the answer is 'yes', but can anyone elaborate on why this is the case, under what law, and what branch of common sense? It seems silly to just sell this on a store shelf, but say it can't be used for business. There are no ID requirements or affidavits required to purchase it, and the fine print on the box could be easily overlooked, or claimed to be. Does anyone know if there are big flashing warning screens inside during the installation that you're at risk of criminal sanctions if you run a corporate P&L on this version of Excel?


NOTE: SuperUser is NOT a legal resource and any advice/answers here should NOT be used in any way.

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I would say shortly that legal questions are not really adapted to this site, even if computer related. See this question on meta about it: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/19886/…. In short, we are not lawyers, so it will be hard to get a real answer which is not "guessing". –  Gnoupi Jan 28 '10 at 13:37
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I think that is is not the case that they charge more for business editions, but that they discount the student editions. In many cases the student editions can be discounted because schools and universities have their own suport systems. If I was working with a business and found out that they were using student versions of software I would cut ties with them immediately. If they are willing to be cheap and cut corners on something like that what else should I expect from them. Developing software is expensive, so do the right thing. Why ask if it is legal when it is obviously immoral? –  gavaletz Jan 28 '10 at 13:46
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Avoid asking questions that are subjective, argumentative, or require extended discussion. This is not a discussion board, this is a place for questions that can be answered! –  Diago Jan 28 '10 at 13:58
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closed as not constructive by Diago Jan 28 '10 at 13:56

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1 Answer

With virtually all software sold (and even given away) you never actually buy the software, just a license to use it.

So the vendor (Microsoft in this case) can put any conditions it likes on that license. You by installing the software have agreed to the terms of the license, so you are entering into a contract with Microsoft.

If you go beyond those terms then you are breaking the contract. If Microsoft discover this they can sue you.

Caveat to all the above: IANAL

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Brilliant +1, couldn't say it better - but in addition, there are a few things that have never been proven or tested e.g. a kid can buy software but under 18s (at least in the UK) can not enter in to contracts and various other things like that. EULA is generally accepted, but I am not sure if they have ever really been proven in a court. –  William Hilsum Jan 28 '10 at 13:56
    
@Wil - I'd guess it would come down to the parent/guardian - but that is just a guess. –  ChrisF Jan 28 '10 at 14:02
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