Don’t get held to ransom

Patricia Adams, IT Asset Management Expert, Landesk discusses software licensing, piracy and renewal.

In a BBC report issued earlier this year by technology writer David Lee, It was suggested that organisations such as those in the music and film industry, have been campaigning for stricter laws and sanctions for those who aren’t compliant with software licensing policies. And with the threat of jail time becoming a real possibility for executives who are willing to gamble on software licensing, how will the law differentiate between innocent bystanders and those who purposely play the system?

This poses a real problem for the IT department: In some cases, management aren’t even aware of software being distributed throughout the company and onto corporate devices, as experienced asset managers are few and far between. Therefore, some lincenses are being installed and slipping under the radar. Until now however, most would argue that this is a fairly minor problem with the former threat of a one-off fine being worth the risk in order to avoid paying £50+ a month per employee software purchase/renewal. Now, with a greater consequences at stake, are companies thinking twice about placing their bets on being caught in the software licensing roulette?

Mislead by example

In order for this new legislation to be taken seriously, the law needs to scope out an offender and offer this as an exemplar case. Until major influencers within the business and IT space are held accountable, I think it is unlikely that C-level leaders will change how they manage and monitor their licensing strategies. However, as news of the proposed regulation changes begin to gain wider traction, procurement managers may start to initiate conversations regarding their approach to software licensing.

Around the world

Whilst this law is currently only proposed for the UK, global institutions will need to be mindful of local copyright legislation for other countries they are based in. This could result in asset managers partaking in ‘panic’ purchasing; whereby they overcompensate by purchasing enterprise licensing agreements that far exceed the number of devices likely to host software illegally. This results in huge costs and expenditure and may in fact encourage risk taking behaviour. In order to combat this kind of practice, I propose that companies monitor these potential changes in legislation and prepare to seek alternative vendors. This means that should their existing vendors endorse these harsher changes, businesses can continue to operate with a new vendor with comparable functionalities but avoid potential sanctions. I absolutely understand the vendors’ justifiable wish to protect their intellectual property.

A simple solution to some risky behaviour

Whilst this may seem like another new cost-based issue for businesses to have to contend with, low-cost solutions are already available in the marketplace. Software License and Asset Management packages allow IT managers to oversee where and whom software licenses are being deployed to within your company, meaning you can make informed and accurate financial decisions on software that actually needs to be relicensed or purchased. You can also designate approved software so that all applications distributed throughout the company are licensed and compliant whilst also reporting on any usage beyond corporate guidelines. This could prove to be a literal life-saver; the difference between monitoring bar charts on screen or grasping them from inside a cell!