Check software use and transfer rights to avoid licence misuse

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Check software use and transfer rights to avoid licence misuse

Cliff Saran

Software licences can easily trip up organisations, putting them at risk of compliance action.

Speaking to Computer Weekly, senior software asset management consultant Rory Canavan warned that, in academia, universities can be caught out if students take the software offsite.

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“The Adobe CS6 Academic Licence is limited to the campus. But increasingly students and staff want to do academic work in a coffee shop,” said Canavan.

Using Adobe in a coffee shop would be in breach of the academic licence’s terms and conditions, he warned.

Another example is in a joint venture, where companies may form a legal entity to work on a particular project.

“In a joint venture, the source of the licences will come from the company with the majority stake and you will need permission from the supplier for the right to transfer,” Canavan said.

He said a licensing manager will also need to consider how the licences are returned to the source company.

The supplier needs to be told about the transfer back and this will involve formal paperwork. But, Canavan said getting the right information back to the supplier and even returning the forms correctly are fraught with problems.

While working on a software asset management project a few years ago, he said, the supplier insisted on resubmitting software licence transfer paperwork, because there had been a slight error in the original form.  

“We were told to raise all the paperwork again. We went through the exercise of filling out a new form again,” Canavan said. 

He said this was much harder, given that people had been moved on from the joint venture. 

Even after completing the form again, he was still unable to file the required paperwork for successfully transferring the licence and the forms had to be resubmitted a third time.


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