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British IT managers are a sensible lot, by and large, and they know better than to deliberately pirate software. But keeping track of all the software in use is a pain in the auditing neck. At last, a solution could be at hand - the Application Service Provider (ASP)But is the right answer?

According to a survey commissioned by Vector Networks, four in five IT managers reckon that ASPs are a "useful way of eliminating pirate software in organisations".

Furthermore, most reckon that by using an ASP, their liability is therefore absolved for any pirated software in use by employees in their organisation. Unfortunately, they think wrong.

Colin Bartram, at Vector Networks, says there is "doubt that the ASP model will provide a legal get out in terms of software piracy.

"It is also unlikely that many companies will use ASPs for every application within the organisation and we need to be aware of all software whether it be official or something someone has installed on their PC for their own use. Companies that put their faith blindly into ASPs to protect them from liability may get a nasty shock downstream."

That suggests to us that companies should look to their service level agreements with any ASPs. It would not be unreasonable to expect ASPs to assume liability for software that is under their control. No risk, no reward. ®

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