Feeds

Small.biz lacks software licencing policy

Where's the certificate? No idea mate

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Forty-four percent of Britain's small and medium-sized businesses lack any form of software licensing policy, exposing them to legal and security problems, according to a survey by PC World Business.

The survey of 750 IT managers of businesses up to 500 employees also revealed that more than half of small businesses (58 per cent) don’t keep records on the software they own and don’t have filed or readily accessible licence certificates if requested by software publishers.

Despite this, 87 per cent of businesses believe themselves to be compliant with all legal requirements.

Penalties for software piracy include an unlimited fine or even a prison sentence. All standard software packages are sold with a licence which specifies how many copies can be used. Breeching this licence by using, making or selling illegal copies is a criminal offence, and businesses risk being sued by software publishers for piracy.

In addition, the research discovered that 67 per cent of businesses are buying new software licences every time they purchase a new computer – a strong indication that they are unaware of the cost and efficiency benefits of purchasing company-wide software licences which cover a set number of machines rather than individual software licences.

Richard Harrison of PC World Business said: “A software license policy is essential to all businesses. Not only does it eliminate the legal risks, it also creates numerous efficiencies, such as cutting down the risks of viruses and allows businesses to receive regular upgrades and technical support. While a software licence for every computer is required, buying a licence with a computer is not the right approach. It difficult to keep track of all licences and to match them with the individual machine, and there are also other options which will save businesses money, administration time while ensuring businesses are legally compliant.”

Struan Robertson, editor of OUT-LAW.COM and an IT lawyer with Pinsent Masons, said: "Most businesses would never think of themselves as software pirates, but software mismanagement amounts to the same thing in the eyes of the BSA. The BSA expects 100 per cent compliance and incentivises staff to blow the whistle on employers who fall short. This may seem harsh, but the BSA is right that any licence creep is actionable - so companies have no choice but to stay in control of their licensing. A good policy should make that easier and can help with a compliance audit."

The survey also revealed that awareness of the Business Software Alliance (BSA), a global organisation that polices software licensing, is very low, with only 59 per cent of British businesses aware of its existence. The BSA offers a reward of up to £10,000 for information on illegal use of software.

Copyright © 2005, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Nintend-OH NO! Sorry, Mario – your profits are in another castle
Red-hatted mascot, red-colored logo, red-stained finance books
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.