It used to be really easy to avoid paying for software. People would find license keys online and use them to install popular Microsoft and Adobe products like MS Office or Adobe Creative Suite.
There are IT people who would take pride in not having to pay these Big Bad Companies licensing fees and would equip an entire company with illegal software to save a few thousand dollars. (Note: we have never employed individuals like this.)
Times Have Changed
Now if you try to use illegal software there are three main problems.
1. It doesn’t work properly – software developers all run regular updates to their software and if you do not have a properly licensed version it will not get these updates and not function properly.
2. It’s easy to get caught – because software now regularly communicates with its developer, there is a much larger chance you will be discovered if you are using illegal versions of it.
3. When you get caught, it’s REALLY expensive – the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an organization which actively pursues companies engaging in software piracy, will often seek penalties between $50,000 and over a million dollars.
“We Buy All Our Software, We’re Good…”
You may think that you have paid for all the software on your computers. We have seen numerous instances where company employees have installed illegal software by themselves, without management knowledge.
In our experience in dealing with the BSA, this is not a valid excuse. Software vendors expect you to have proper controls and monitoring in place to prevent your staff from installing illegal software.
What Can You Do?
Fortunately there are straightforward ways you can protect your company against unknowingly pirating software.
1. Access Rights – eliminate the ability for any staff to install software themselves. Force them to call into your help desk to install software where there will be proper licensing controls.
2. Monitoring and auditing – ensure your network has effective monitoring in place and you can get software reports that show what software is installed across your company. If anything is unlicensed, it should be removed immediately.
3. Communicate policies to staff – ensure all staff know it is a fireable offence to install illegal software on your network.
If you need a software inventory or audit of your current software installations, please give us a call atand we will help ensure you do not have a million-dollar liability on your