Software licenses protect the software developer or publisher and you, theuser. The agreement establishes clear guidelines to help prevent misuse andcopyright infringement.
You can run into legal and financial difficulties if you don’t understandthe agreement; software licenses protect the developer’s intellectual propertyrights, after all. For example, you’ll often have to agree to a certain numberof users for that copy of the software. If your license is for three users, youare risking legal ramifications if you’re using it for ten people in yourbusiness.
Keeping track of the number of people using a software license can also saveyour business money. You might have more licenses than users, for example,which is a waste of resources.
What else do I need to know about software licenses?
Along with rightsizing your software spending, also track renewal dates. Youmay have that license only for a year before you have to pay for it again. Youdon’t want to learn, on a deadline, that you’re locked out of essentialsoftware due to license expiration.
Different licenses will have various durations, so keep an eye out forrenewal notices, and be proactive. See expiration dates as an opportunity torevisit the number of users licensed. You might also negotiate better pricing,or see this as a deadline to transition to a different program instead.
The software also reaches end-of-life or end-of-support after a set periodof time. You might continue using that software, but you put yourself atrisk of vulnerabilities. The developer no longer patches and upgrades thesoftware to protect it from cyber threats.
Software license best practices
Using software without a license risks fines, prosecution, and jail time.Companies such as Microsoft and Adobe will prosecute, or even pay rewards topeople who report software piracy. The only exceptions are open-source softwareor freeware licensed for anyone’s use. Even in this case, though, it’s stillimportant to review the sales page or features chart. It might state you can’tuse it for commercial use.
Try these best practices to avoid legal and financial concerns:
- Read the agreements before you agree.
- Don’t use software without a license.
- Develop a process for monitoring your licenses.
- Review your agreements, at least annually.
- Consider partnering with a managed service provider to handle your software license management.
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