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Way back in November 2013 Managing Director, James Eades wrote a blog post asking why so many businesses feel comfortable with software piracy. The message is simple. If you aren’t fully licensed for each piece of software that your business uses then you could be hit with a hefty fine. Many businesses that we speak to still seem to think that it’ll never happen to them. Our experience working with hundreds of small businesses has taught us that you might be less compliant than you think in a licensing audit. So, to help you prepare for a potential audit, here are a few factors that you may have missed:
OEM, or “Original Equipment Manufacturer”, licensing audit is very common. If you purchase Microsoft Windows or Microsoft Office with a new PC (or with certain new components) then you qualify for heavily reduced licensing. This is designed to help computer manufacturers stick to competitive price-points while still bundling Microsoft licenses. This is one of the most popular ways of purchasing software. You might not realise that the trade-off is that OEM licenses live and die with that piece of equipment. If you buy a PC with OEM Microsoft Office, you can’t then transfer that license for Office to the next new PC you buy. Similarly your Windows License. If your PC dies you must buy a new PC with a new Windows license.
It’s very popular (and cost-effective) for larger organisations to purchase through the “Open License Scheme.” Instead of having to buy individual copies of a piece of software you can buy a license entitling you to multiple installations. However many businesses forget that this license expires after 2 years and must be renewed. We recently came across a business who had been using the same Open License for 8 years, so had been unlicensed for the last 6!
Office 365 is Microsoft’s rental-model for the Office package. Instead of buying a license up-front, you rent the software monthly, and therefore always get access to the very latest version. One of the perks with many of the packages is that you can install the Office package on up to 5 devices, but only for the same user. If you purchase Office 365 you can therefore install your license on your office PC, laptop, home desktop, Microsoft tablet and your smart phone. What you wont be able to do is pay once and install it on your office PC and the office PCs of 5 of your colleagues.
Let’s be honest, paying for software licenses is neither exciting nor cheap, but it’s a necessary evil. The alternative is to use some of the many open-source or free to use packages that are available. If you’re worried that you might fall foul of the law in the event of a surprise audit, why not get in touch and someone from our team can chat through your options!