Computer Security: protect CERN - respect copyrights

Are you a physicist who does complex mathematical calculations? Are you a webmaster who regularly embeds visual contents? Do you regularly present to large audiences? Are you an engineer who does sophisticated simulations of heat transfers, structural stability or electric circuits? Are you a technician who often uses CAD software? Do you like listening to music while being at CERN? Go ahead!


But make sure that you have legitimately obtained the software/images/music/videos you are using and hold valid licenses to run your software. Using illegal or pirated software/images/music/videos is not a trivial offense. It violates the CERN Computing Rules (OC5) and puts the Organization at risk!

Vendors deserve credit and compensation. So make sure to buy your software via legitimate channels and use a valid and honestly obtained license. This also applies to “shareware” and software under open licenses, which might also come with a cost. Usually, only “freeware” is completely free. Of course, software installed from the central CERN repositories (i.e. CMF for Windows PCs and SWrep for Linux) are 100% legal and come with appropriate licenses. Some engineering applications, however, have restricted usage. A list of centrally provided engineering applications is available from the IT department and the EN/ICE group. Ask your supervisor if you are not sure or contact the CERN Service Desk.

In addition, make sure that you have the proper rights when using visual content, be they graphics, photos or videos. Whether you are a presenter, webmaster or editor, please ensure you hold the correct rights when using visual content and music in your presentations, webpages or publications… Check whether the imagery is published under a Creative Commons license (see, for example, Wikimedia or this article) or consider paying a royalty fee to a photo repository such as or It takes just an investment of a few francs to be on the safe side. If you are really keen on using a particular photo or graphic, contact its author/owner and ask for permission (and keep written proof!). And, of course, take your time to browse the CERN Document Server (CDS) for footage from CERN. If you don’t find what you are looking for, why not roam around the CERN site, shoot the photo yourself and make it available on CDS?

If you are listening to music or watching films while at CERN, make sure that you have the proper rights to do so (and, of course, that you have the agreement of your supervisor). Note that these rights are personal and you usually do not have the right to share music or videos with third parties without violating copyright. Nowadays film companies are actively scanning for illegal downloads and sharing. So please keep CERN out of their crosshairs!

Quid pro quo. CERN also produces lots of software (and hardware!). We don’t charge for this, as knowledge sharing and dissemination is in the spirit of the Organization. However, we hope you agree that CERN deserves credit if third parties use our products, and that we ensure that this usage remains within spirit of the Organization (e.g. that CERN ware is not used for dubious purposes). Therefore, all CERN software should be published under one of the recommended Open Source licenses, such as GNU GPL v3. CERN has initiated a similar scheme for hardware - the CERN Open Hardware Licence - in order to facilitate the exchange and reuse of hardware design. There are also dedicated terms of use for CERN audiovisual media.

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by Computer Security Team