Every piece of software developed is released to the public on certain terms—some are free to download and use, some can be used on a trial basis and some require licenses to be purchased. For any business or organization, it is crucial to ensure that software licenses are properly purchased and kept up to date. This is not only because many software packages function better when full versions are purchased and registered, but also because software companies often aggressively police their intellectual property and can assess heavy fines for organizations using pirated or unlicensed software.
- Down to Business—It’s not unusual for Microsoft to perform audits on companies with multiple computers running Microsoft Windows. Each computer has a unique product key for Windows and it’s important that each computer stays activated and that the product key is used only for that system. MCR has assisted several businesses with preparing for and complying with a Microsoft audit.
- Beyond Windows—Software companies have banded together to combat piracy and illegal use of their products. The “Business Software Alliance” (BSA) is a trade group originally established by Microsoft in the late ‘90s. Since its inception, the BSA has grown its membership to include the largest Software Creators and distributors in the world. The trade group sponsors marketing campaigns which encourage employees or ex-employees to report companies that use unlicensed software, even going so far as to offer substantial bounties for those who make reports. The BSA’s “Bust Your Boss” campaign was a controversial example of this entity’s attempts to get disgruntled employees to hit their companies with major fines. Critics of the organization have pointed out that problem employees could even download pirated software themselves, report their employer and collect a bounty for their own misdeed.
- Doing It Right—How do you know if your company is in compliance with licensing and intellectual property laws? It takes a little research and a measure of prevention. All software used within your business should be examined to determine if it was paid for and properly activated. Some companies offer free versions of software to consumers but have paid enterprise editions for businesses. How do you prevent employees from installing unauthorized software on company computers? In a server or domain environment, a network administrator can set rules for what software can or cannot be installed. A regular internal audit should also be considered on an annual basis, so that your company has a full picture of what programs are being used.
If all of this has your head spinning, don’t worry, MCR can help you to set up group policies to help regulate the licensed software your company uses. Call MCR to set up your assessment today.