MANAGEMENT OF SOFTWARE LICENCES – ORGANISATIONAL DUTIES AND RISKS

With information technology having become indispensable in almost every industry sector and with 53 percent of workplaces in the European Union being equipped with a computer (based on data collected by the statistical office of the European Union), the number of aspects to be observed from a compliance perspective has rapidly increased over the last decade. The operation of computers as a tool in day-to-day work inevitably led to a variety of issues to be resolved. This pertains to both the technical (e.g., data security, virus prevention, spam protection, business continuity, etc.) and the legal environment (e.g., occupational health and safety, employee monitoring, surveillance, data protection, etc.). Closely connected to the operation of computers is the selection and management of suitable software that meets a company’s business needs. Various licensing models require different steps to ensure compliance not only with the licensing terms and conditions but also with statutory rules. The following briefly outlines some general (though frequently overlooked) aspects that should be taken into account when establishing a procedures for the management of software licences.

Standard licensing terms often conceal provisions that can have a significant economic impact. The scope of a licence can be limited so that specific types of use are excluded. Standalone software licences acquired for a number of workstations will not automatically convey the right to host the software centrally and provide access to it in a network environment even if the number of users does not exceed the number of available licences. Some licensors tie the right to use their software to a specific hardware platform with higher royalties becoming due for use in connection with more powerful CPUs. 

Jan-Mar 2014 Issue

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP