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Remaining in compliance with software license agreements can be a juggling act for many organizations. Many sources offer good advice, but organizations looking to take control of their software assets also must sift through at least as many misconceptions. Here are some of the most common:
While a software asset management tool will go a long way toward keeping an organization in compliance, it can’t operate in a vacuum. As Robert Scott of the law firm Scott & Scott says, “A tool is just a tool.” In other words, without the knowledge of how to interpret and normalize the data and then understand what that data means relative to licensing rules, the data itself is not worth much. An effective SAM program also must have executive sponsorship. “There has to be someone in the organization who can write the last email of the stream to drive an initiative like SAM forward,” Scott says.
When it comes to software license violations, the buck stops with the enterprise. Even if the outsourcer does a great job managing software licenses, any liability that occurs as a result of noncompliance rests with the organization that owns the hardware and uses the software.
While large enterprises are definitely “big fish,” this fact does not let small and midsized companies off the hook. In fact, BSA and the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) focus much of their efforts on small- and medium-sized business (SMB) audits. An analysis by the Associated Press found that most of BSA’s software violation settlements with North American companies came from small businesses.
Even if it’s inadvertent, piracy still has an impact. It deflects funds that software manufacturers could use to improve their software and contributes to rising product costs. According to BSA, 19 percent of all business software is unlicensed. Reducing software piracy by just 10 percent worldwide could add more than 25,000 high-tech jobs, about $38 billion in new economic activity and $6.1 billion in tax revenue over four years.
When software is licensed properly, software developers don’t have to raise prices.
With modern software copy protection, this claim is simply not true. Copy protection ensures that the software can’t be tampered with, and it doesn’t affect performance.
While many popular applications are free for private citizens, their use by a business organization can trigger a purchasing obligation. Often, companies simply don’t know that because they don’t read the agreement. This happens most often with programs such as utilities and accounting software that are free for individual users.
Want to learn more? Check out CDW’s white paper, “How to Survive a Software Audit.”