Autodesk Software Audit – Student and Intern Issues (FAQ)
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As a software lawyer, I handle many cases with Autodesk counsel from the prestigious intellectual property firm Donahue Fitzgerald. One item that comes up fairly frequently is the illegal use of software used by students of various college campuses, and interns who come to a small architect or engineering firm or design firm to learn on the job, but also start using the software outside the terms of the license, which generally permits commercial use. When this happens, sometimes either the intern, or corporate insider, and sometimes even a competitor may “tip-off” Autodesk directly, or may inform representatives of the business software alliance about the pirated usage, and this could lead to receiving the software audit letter.
NOTE: Some people refer to a student license as a "hobbyist" license, but I am not aware of such a license. Also, people seem to think sometimes that only the "large studios" get hit for an audit. This is not true. We deal with companies as small as one architect, engineer, designer or game creator on up to very large companies that use Autodesk software.
Common Licensing Terms
Autodesk has many different types of software that can be used for a three-year term (as long as the student continues to meet the qualifications of the licensing terms). Here are some of the terms that may be at issue. First, is the term Qualified Educational Institution. According to one licensing term sheet I found from Autodesk:
26. “Qualified Educational Institution” means an educational institution which has been accredited by an authorized governmental agency within its applicable local, state, provincial, federal, or national government and has the primary purpose of teaching its enrolled students. Examples, without limitation, of entities that are included and excluded from this definition, are described at http://www.autodesk.com/educationterms.
A second question involves what is a “student” allowed to use their CAD or Revit (or other software products)? According to their license information available on their website:
34. “Student” means an individual person enrolled as a student at a Qualified Educational Institution.
Types of Licenses
Here are two types of licenses I found that appear to relate to educational licenses.
4. Educational Stand-alone (Individual) License. If the License Identification identifies the License Type as “Educational Stand-alone (Individual)”, then an Educational Licensee may Install a copy of the specific release of the Licensed Materials designated in the applicable License Identification on two (2) Computers (or as otherwise authorized in writing by Autodesk), subject to certain functional limitations described in Section 6.3 (Affected Data), on a Stand-alone Basis, and permit Access to such copy of the Licensed Materials solely by the Educational Licensee solely for Educational Purposes. An Educational Stand-alone (Individual) License is for a fixed term specified in the applicable License Identification or, if no such term is specified, the term is thirty-six (36) months from Installation or as otherwise authorized in writing by Autodesk.
5. Educational Multi-seat Stand-alone License. If the License Identification identifies the License Type as “Educational Multi-seat Stand-alone,” then an Educational Licensee may Install copies of the specific release of the Licensed Materials designated in the applicable License Identification on up to the Permitted Number of Computers, subject to certain functional limitations described in Section 6.3 (Affected Data), on a Stand-alone Basis, and permit Access to such copies of the Licensed Materials solely by Educational Licensees solely for Educational Purposes. An Educational Multi-seat Stand-alone License is for a fixed term specified in the applicable License Identification or, if no such term is specified, the term is thirty-six (36) months from Installation or as otherwise authorized in writing by Autodesk.
What is an Educational Network License?
Also, from their website:
6. Educational Network License. If the License Identification identifies the License Type as “Educational Network”, then an Educational Licensee may Install copies of the specific release of the Licensed Materials designated in the applicable License Identification on a single file server Computer, subject to certain functional limitations described in Section 6.3 (Affected Data), and Access such Licensed Materials on multiple Computers on a Networked Basis, and permit Access to such copies of the Licensed Materials solely by Educational Licensees solely for Educational Purposes, only so long as the maximum number of concurrent Authorized Users does not exceed the Permitted Number of Authorized Users. An Educational Network License is for a fixed term specified in the applicable License Identification or, if no such term is specified, the term is thirty-six (36) months from Installation or as otherwise authorized in writing by Autodesk.
Are there examples of what a QEI institution includes?
I found this on their website:
Examples of Qualified Educational Institutions include, without limitation, public or private:
- Elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools
- Junior colleges
- Colleges, universities, and technical schools
- Home school programs which belong to a nationally recognized homeschooling body or are expressly recognized by a local school governing body as an acceptable alternative to an accredited educational institution
Specifically excluded, without limitation, from the definition of Qualified Educational Institution are:
- Non-accredited educational institutions
- Training centers
- Hospitals, healthcare systems & research laboratories
Is there a “public education” carve-out?
I found a definition for that as well:
“Public Educational Institution” means a Qualified Educational Institution that is a legal branch or agency of a state or local government.
Can an educational licensee be audited?
Yes, here was another term I found in their definitions sheet:
9. “Educational Licensee” means a Licensee who is also (a) a Qualified Educational Institution, (b) Faculty, (c) Student or (d) Other Authorized Educational Licensee. An Educational Licensee may be required to show proof of eligibility if requested by Autodesk. Autodesk, in its sole discretion, retains the right to determine the eligibility of an Educational Licensee.
What are recognized educational uses of Autodesk student / faculty software?
This was also addressed on their website:
10. “Educational Purposes” means
(i) in the case of a Qualified Educational Institution, Faculty or Other Authorized Educational Licensees, purposes directly related to learning, teaching, training, research and development that are part of the instructional functions performed by a Qualified Educational Institution or Other Authorized Educational Licensee
(ii) in the case of Students, purposes related to learning, training, research or development. “Educational Purposes” does not include commercial, professional or any other for-profit purposes, except as designated at http://www.autodesk.com/educationterms or otherwise authorized in writing by Autodesk.
13. “Faculty” means an individual person who is an employee or independent contractor working for a Qualified Educational Institution.
Common products that might be licensed under the Academic Education program
Here are some of the student versions that may qualify (check with Autodesk)"
“3ds Max 3ds Max Extension 3ds Max Design Advance Concrete Advance Steel Alias AutoStudio AutoCAD AutoCAD Architecture AutoCAD Civil 3D AutoCAD Design Suite Ultimate AutoCAD Electrical AutoCAD for Mac AutoCAD LT AutoCAD LT for Mac AutoCAD Map 3D AutoCAD Mechanical AutoCAD MEP AutoCAD P&ID AutoCAD Plant 3D AutoCAD Raster Design AutoCAD Utility Design A360. Building Design Suite Ultimate
CFD Design Study Environment CFD Flex CFD Motion Character Generator Dynamo Studio Entertainment Creation Suite Ultimate Fabrication CADmep Fabrication CAMduct Fabrication ESTmep Factory Design Suite Ultimate Flow Design FormIt 360 Pro Fusion 360 Fusion 360 for Educational Institutions Green Building Studio Helius Composite HSMWorks Premium. Infrastructure Design Suite Ultimate InfraWorks InfraWorks 360 Inventor HSM Pro Inventor Professional Inventor Publisher Lighting Analysis for Revit Maya Maya Extension
Maya LT Maya LT Extension mental ray Standalone Moldflow Adviser Ultimate MotionBuilder Mudbox Nastran Nastran In-CAD Navisworks Manage Navisworks Simulate Netfabb Plant Design Suite Ultimate Point Layout Product Design Suite Ultimate. ReCap 360 Pro ReMake Rendering in A360 Revit Revit Extensions Robot Structural Analysis Professional Showcase Simulation Mechanical
Sketchbook Pro for Business Smoke Softimage Stingray Structural Bridge Design T-Splines Plug-in for Rhino Vault Professional Client Vault Professional Server Vehicle Tracking VRED Professional.”
Contact an Autodesk Audit Attorney (we handle copyright & software infringement cases nationwide).
We have helped many design professional business firms across the Country deal with Autodesk software licensing compliance issues. We help you review your licensing ownership position for student and faculty versions of software, and if there is improper usage that exceeds the scope of the license, or pirated and commercial uses of the software, we can help negotiate a settlement, which usually will not involve future audits clauses, a software code of ethics, or other harsh contractual settlement terms (this depends upon the severity of the case).
We have a proven track record of success, and we offer low (predictable) flat rate legal fees so there is no “shocking legal bill” after two or three copyright attorneys pass your case around and drag the case on for 6 -12 months.
Call us for a free initial consultation if you received a letter from Donahue Fitzgerald in California or received an internal email or phone call from Autodesk. We can be reached at (877) 276-5084 or drop us an email through our contact form.