Feeds

Software escrow – a useful tool for small developers?

If the customers know where the source is, and know where to get it, maybe

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

Software escrow, essentially a way of preserving source code by depositing it with a third party, is becoming increasingly fashionable as small developers seek to license software to large organisations. An op/ed in the current issue of Dr Dobb's Journal by Andrew Moore makes a case for software escrow agreements. Moore of course works for a firm that undertakes this. There are several situations in which this could be a useful thing to do. Moore quotes a case where Amoco had a project that would cost $10 million to deploy and involve 15,000 people. The best software for the project was from a small developer, so Amoco went ahead but with an escrow agreement in place that provided a means for the company to acquire the source code if the vendor was taken over or went out of business. A clause also gave Amoco the right to decide when a release condition had been reached, with arbitration or litigation safeguards. The tale ends with Amoco deciding it had to exercise its rights, and obtaining the source code in a couple of weeks. Escrow agreements can be two-party or three-party. In the first case, multiple end-users can be covered by an agreement between the vendor and an independent party, with the end-users being beneficiaries in defined circumstances. Third party agreements tend to be used where customisation of the escrow agreement is necessary. Deposited copies of software versions can also be used to prove when particular code was distributed, either to protect against claims or to prove ownership of the intellectual property at a particular date in defence against a claim. Another use may be in the authentication of software if a software vendor needs to show ownership in merger or acquisition talks. Aside from issues about whether copyright is an appropriate way to protect software, anything would be better than the foolish and arbitrary decision of the US Copyright Office to require only the first and last 25 pages of a work to be put on file. Maybe software escrow will remain as rare as fully-documented software, but in these litigious times, it could be quite a growth industry. ®

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.