Corporate IT users have accused technology suppliers of cynically using software licence auditing as a tool to squeeze more revenue out of buyers.

Members of IT user group the Corporate IT Forum are complaining that the number of audit demands are getting out of hand and are more about increasing revenue than actually tackling piracy.

But more than half of’s CIO Jury IT user panel disagreed with the claim that vendors are getting too heavy-handed with software licence audits.

Ken Davis, head of IT at TV channel Five, said: “It’s true that suppliers can use audits as a tool to increase revenue. However, software audits, such as those carried out by the Federation Against Software Theft, are actually very helpful in overall software management and asset tracking. If IT departments keep a good handle of software management then the opportunity for suppliers to use audits to leverage revenue isn’t available.”

Richard Steel, CIO at the London Borough of Newham, said: “It’s their judgement call. If they suspect that we are abusing licensing conditions, then we cannot blame them for wanting to raise awareness of, and address the problem. If, on the other hand, our software inventories are well-managed and comply with all relevant licensing conditions, then they cannot blame us for feeling aggrieved at any inconvenience we suffer, and taking that into account in any future prospective dealings with them.”

One solution to software licence audits, of course, is open source. Paul Broom, IT director at, said: “Use open source and forget about this altogether – but do chip in for anything you use in anger and make money from.”

But other CIO Jurors hit out at suppliers over licence audits. Graham Yellowley, director of technology services at Mitsubishi UFJ Securities International, said: “Software audits are becoming increasingly frequent and extremely time-consuming. There appears to be no bounds to this type of audit and often the suppliers have fewer records of original purchases than the consumer.”

Rorie Devine, CTO at Betfair, added: “Fundamentally a software audit demonstrates a lack of trust. Software suppliers should be trying to build a win-win partnership with their customers.”

Today’s CIO Jury was…

Alastair Behenna, CIO, Harvey Nash
Paul Broom, IT director,
Ken Davis, head of IT, Five
Rorie Devine, CTO, Betfair
Ric Francis, operations director, the Post Office
Colin Moore, head of IS, Department for Education and Skills
Jacques Rene, CTO, Ascend Aerospace
Peter Ryder, head of ICT, Preston City Council
Richard Steel, CIO, London Borough of Newham
David Supple, head of IT and creative services, Ecotec
Ted Woodhouse, director of IT strategy, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
Graham Yellowley, director of technology services, Mitsubishi UFJ Securities International

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