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Licencing problems with client

By andrew.mizzi ·
I have a client that has some unlicenced software installed on its network.

I have approached them, and have given the ultimatum of getting the software licenced or I will leave (costing them a lot). I have given them up to the end of this year to get the rest of the network licenced.

It may be unethical, but it is a small client and the legal charges would put them out of business, and I figure that there is more chances of them getting the required licences this way.

I feel I haveenough reasons to have done what I have done, even though some of you may disagree.

The problem is that they are getting close to the deadline and I'm unsure of what to do next. The client is quite valued and most of my revenue comes from them, and I know that the software will dint their bank account significantly.

I am currently looking at moving them to star office to cut down costs and would if I could, move them to linux (their applications restrict them from doing this).

What would you guys do? Dob them in and possibly get the blame for it as you're their IT guy, make sure that they licence all of their software or what?

It's enough to make me wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night...

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CYA

by nobrien In reply to Licencing problems with c ...

First I would make very sure you are documenting any and all discussion with the Co. about the licencing issue. I would think some more prodding would be in order to include giving them a rundown on the consequences that do include heavy fines and possible jail time. Keep this in mind though as their IT guy you are the one that will take the fall when push comes to shove..Are they worth that?

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Difficult

by leehellcat In reply to CYA

I can see where you are coming from. I guess you are not actually on their payroll, but a supplier, therefore you are only able to make recommendations to them, and if you are not happy to work with unlicenced software, then you have to tell tham that. Although you risk losing a large customer, you are in a position where the only sensible route is to take the morale high ground.

Although it will made a sizable dent in their bank balance, they should think of the licencing issues before installing software on new computers. If they are not prepared to purchase the required licenses then I think you should say goodbye to them, or they will only blame you when it comes back to haunt them.

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I would explain it to them like this

by LordInfidel In reply to Licencing problems with c ...

(although you are in australia, I am using US guildines)

Here we have the BSA, for every unlicensed copy of software that is installed it is a 50k fine.

It can easily add up. So ask them what is worse.

Realistically they don't have to worry until they get a letter from the BSA or M$. And even then, don't respond back to the BSA letter and don't tell M$ that you are short.

Once you say that you are short or request a truce, they will come down on you.

I would not threaten them by leaving, you can always be replaced by someone else.

I would just let them know how much cash it *will* cost them if they are caught.

They can gamble, but I have seen companies here in the US get slammed hard. (actually my first job [short lived] ever with a company got slammed and had to go out of business)

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Help them out

by TheChas In reply to Licencing problems with c ...

You are at the largest risk if you actually installed, or install any of the unlicensed software.

While if you continue your relationship with them, you are not risk free, your risk is less if you clearly document your discussions and communications with the client.

If they are a small firm, you might want to take things a step at a time.

Start with a particular piece of software.
Set a date to bring all PCs into compliance on that software.
Then, move on to the next.

If you can get them to commit to a phased timetable to bring all PCs into compliance, you can have a win-win scenario.
You keep your client.
They do not have to spend all the funds at once.

As to 'Office' software, I agree with your concept of moving them to Star Office.

However, short term, you can go 1 step better. There is a 'freeware' version of the Star Office code available from www.openoffice.org

At a minimum, this gives them a chance to try out Star Office, and see if it presents any problems for them.

Chas

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I don't eny your position.

by jmoore In reply to Help them out

If they fail to make the move to legal licensing, you may want to consider protecting yourself. They may also need to be warned that sometimes, fines for unlicensed software can reach as high as $250,000 per count. Maybe not in their case but, that number alone tends to open peoples eyes.

Not all people agree with what I'm about to say but..

As an IT professional you are held to certain levels of trust, honesty and integrity. If they fail to comply then it is up to you to determine whether the authorities/vendor should be notified. To help make this decision remember: As far as the law is concerned the offending party is nothing more than a thief, and you're associated with them. Think about it...

Good luck.

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