Legality of Using Same Disk for Reinstallation on Multiple Computers in T.S. Setting

Discussion in 'macOS' started by jlange, Oct 27, 2010.

  1. jlange macrumors newbie

    Mar 31, 2006
    Hi all,

    I work in Tech Services at my University, and I've been presented with this issue multiple times at work. I think my entire group of co-workers have just been living with the precedent, a notion that I think is entirely false. Here's an example of the situation:

    A student comes in with a non-working MacBook, vintage 2006, say. Something's wrong with the OS itself.. the student probably deleted /etc or something, not knowing what it was. Regardless, the computer is effectively borked and a reinstallation of Mac OS X is in order. My co-workers, and even my boss, tell me that I need to have _their_ disk to perform the reinstallation.

    I think that's wrong. Mac OS X installation disks are now all the same. Newer ones might have newer drivers for newer machines, but outside of that, so long as a person has a license to that version of Mac OS X which was on their computer, they can use whatever media they like. If they own a Mac, they have a license already to the version it came installed with.

    I don't believe there is any breach of license or copyright here by simply having our own archive of installation media for Macs, so long as we install the same version that corresponds with their computer's default setup.

    I do realize that doing this will lose their iLife installation and any other third-party software that they had their computer configured with, but I can say personally that I'd be more glad to have a working computer and no Office than a non-working computer and Office.

    Anyone have some thoughts? I'd like someone with more IP/legal knowledge to share their thoughts.
  2. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    In theory, the restore disc that came with the machine should be used to reinstall the OS. If you have a retail copy of an OS it is eligible for install on limited machines and certainly not across a campus.

    You are wrong in this case and if you have further questions I would read that EULA.

    If you use "their" disks you can also regain media that was intended for that machine as well.

    Let me ask this, the machine, say vintage 2006, I bet it didn't come with oh say Leopard or Snow Leopard, now did it? It does not take a lawyer, one versed in law, or an armchair attorney to know that the installation of software on multiplate machines by way of a single user license is by no means "legal". However, depending on the direction of your moral compass ... possible. It should also be worth noting that if you do this and your university is caught, you are putting them at serious risk.
  3. Mal macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2002
    No, the OP is correct. The disks are not relevant, all that is relevant is that the person who's computer it is owns a valid license for that operating system. I worked for an AASP, and we had copies of the various operating systems, and since there is no licensing on the disks, we could use one disk that was valid on any compatible system.

    As long as the owner of the computer has a valid license (and it's your responsibility to verify that if necessary, though often you can just verify what OS it would have shipped with), you can use any disk to install that version of the OS.

  4. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    I don't think the OP is correct. It's a 2006 Mac, what OS is being installed? I can see your point but given the information it seems this can go either way. I think what needs to be discussed is what OS is on the 2006 mac and what is being installed.
  5. iThinkergoiMac macrumors 68030

    Jan 20, 2010
    As long as the user has a license for the OS being installed, I don't think there's anything legally wrong with using a single disc to install the OS.

    To use the existing example, if a user came in with a 2006 MacBook and needed the OS to be reinstalled, you have a couple options. You can send them back for their disc (which there's a good chance they don't have) or you can install Tiger, which originally came on the computer. If they can prove they have a license for Leopard or Snow Leopard, you can install that. Of course, the easiest way to prove that is to produce a retail disc, but that's beside the point.

    So if you have retail Tiger, Leopard, and Snow Leopard discs behind the counter, simply install the one that came bundled with the computer. Users can very easily install the missing software themselves later.

    Legally, as long as you know they have a license for the OS, there's not a problem installing it from a different disc, so long as you're installing the appropriate OS. It would obviously be illegal to install Leopard on a user's Mac when that user only has a license for Tiger. Conversely, it would also be illegal to install Leopard on a user's Mac when the only license that user has is for Snow Leopard.

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