Smaller business rarely have the time or resources to deal with the complexity of software licensing issues and, as a result, are probably over spending Lack of manpower and a fear of being forced to pay extra for missing licenses are the most commonly cited reasons for not following a software compliance programme. However, most smaller companies do not realise that company directors can actually be prosecuted for under-licensing and a simple audit might show the business is actually just wasting money. Our experiences shows resourcing issues continue to make it difficult for small firms to embark on a compliance progarmme, but they actually rarely have to stump up extra cash, because we find that most are actually overspending. Therefore working towards compliance should be seen as more of an investment than a cost. Here are six key points you should bear in mind in regards to getting software licensing right: 1) All software is copyrighted material and must be licensed correctly. You never own the software, regardless of how much you pay, you are only buying the right to use it. 2) Licence agreements are often printed on single sheets of paper that may, or may not, come with the boxed software. It is important to keep them in a safe environment, such as a fireproof safe, as they can be the only proof of an organisation’s rights to use the software 3) If a licence agreement genuinely cannot be found, the receipted invoice can often be accepted as proof of purchase. It is therefore advisable to reconcile the invoices as well as licence agreements with software installed on your systems. 4) Shareware, Freeware, games, screensavers, fonts, music, video and pictures are all copyrighted materials and should be treated in the same way as any other software, with careful consideration of the licence details. 5) Smaller businesses cannot always afford the wide range of technology on the market for controlling computer use. Often a cost-effective way to begin to address this issue is with robust policies, which help users to understand the implications of incorrect computer use.

6) Policies should include obtaining authorisation from the appropriate person before downloading or installing anything onto computers.

For further information on these and other software licensing issues, please contact FAST Corporate Services on 01628 622 121.