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Employees using company software for personal use

By Tink56 ·
Prior to my coming on board with this organization, the software media that came with or was installed on a PC was retained with the employee who had the PC. When I came on board, I started doing an inventory and discovered some of the software was gone: terminated employees still had it in their possession or it was "just gone." I also learned that some employees took the media home to install on their home PCs.

I recommended a new policy which was put in place. All the software media is filed and stored in my department. It makes my job a lot easier tracking licensing and where stuff is installed. The exception is our marketing department. They talked the powers that be into keeping all their own software within their department. This includes such things as Adobe In Design, Photoshop and Illustrator.

Recently, one of these employees screwed up her machine royally. She said she could work on her personal laptop until the problems were resolved. She said she had Adobe In Design, Photoshop and Illustrator on her personal laptop. My antenae went up with this statement. Wow! "That's a lot of heavy duty software," I said. "Uh, yeah," she replied, "I do a lot of volunteer work designing flyers and stuff."

Okay. Maybe she did go out and buy all this stuff. I'm guessing it's at least $1500 to $1800 worth of software. But something tells me she used "our" software on her personal PC.

I'm not sure what to do? How to approach her? Our policies state that we must be in compliance with all software licensing.

As I said, it all could be on the up and up. However, given what she did to her computer and what she won't admit to doing (downloads, trojans, spyware like you've never seen, etc.), I'm left not trusting her.

Any suggestions on how you would deal with this situation?

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It seems that you have a good case ...

by stress junkie In reply to Employees using company s ...

... to go back to the business management and recommend that ALL of the software assets be kept locked in your department. Even if her copies are properly licensed the fact that the question is raised is enough justification to secure the installation media.

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This is a big problem among companies and exposes them to legal action

by Why Me Worry? In reply to Employees using company s ...

Not only is it theft of office supplies to steal or install corporate copies of software on personal machines, it is a clear violation of the licensing agreement and can bring about legal action by the software manufacturer against the company in question. I would keep all software media locked up and under no circumstances let anyone "borrow" the software for personal use no matter what their excuses are. The woman you mentioned obviously installed your corporate copies of Adobe software, as it is quite unlikely she went out and spent a few grand of her own money to install on her personal laptop for some side jobs. Also, although it is quite possible to download pirated copies of it from P2P networks, I doubt this is what she did if she was able to get it from her place of work. God forbid your organization gets audit for license compliance and it is found they you are allowing users to install business software for home use. What's worse is if she burned herself a copy and then burned her friends and other colleagues a copy. When the software police come knocking as to how your copy of Adobe Photoshop is now being illegally traded on Kazaa, you will be the first to answer questions about it.

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Every rule has exceptions

by JamesRL In reply to This is a big problem amo ...

You need to read the licensing agreements in many organizations.

One deal I negotiated with Microsoft was that they would continue to include the right for employees to have a copy of MS Office on their home computer under certain conditions(that we tracked who loaded it, and made them sign off that they would remove it if they quit or were fired).

Similarly we negotiated home use rights for anti-virus software - makes sense that if you allow a large number of users to make VPN connections, you should ensure that they aren't sharing viruses with their workplace.

The trick if you have exceptions of course, is to publish them in a very clear manner. We had a software library and theu were very clear about it. You had to sign out software, fill in appropriate forms etc. Expensive yes, but cheaper than the results from a bad audit.


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Me too

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Every rule has exceptions

I've worked for places where it was negotiated to have two copies of the software. One on your desktop and one on your laptop. Done on the assumption that you aren't going to be using both at the same time.
Course if you find someone using the company pc and company software to do do their own business, they could have a nasty shock, when the owner says "and where's my cut".

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I seem to recall MS Office

by JamesRL In reply to Me too

Was licensed like that at one point, perhaps pre Office 97.

My company was an agency of the government, and in Canada, there was a lot of competion between MS and Corel for the government contract at one point, so I am sure they extended this. The deal we had was that each user could have one copy for work, and one copy for home, even though the home PC didn't belong to the company. When I did the renegotiation, they told us this would be the last time.....


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Marketers think that they're Gods.

by deepsand In reply to Employees using company s ...

I have yet to meet a marketer who did'nt think that they were the center of the universe.

As such, they do not respond well to reason; and, they submit to authority only when forced to.

Your only viable approach is to play hardball, after securing the pledge of a trusted authority so placed as to be able to enforce the policy.

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by Black Panther In reply to Employees using company s ...

Tell here the company is being 'Audited' soon and you need to do an 'audit' of all Software including any that may have been loaded on any personal PC's.

The ask her does she know of any work programs that may have been loaded on the laptop.

You may need to review the policy to include that no Business Work is to be done on personal computers without the Managment's knowledge and only IT can load authorised software on personal PC's ( if allowed )

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One Issue

by BFilmFan In reply to Employees using company s ...

The major issue here is that the software is on her personal machine.

You are going to have a very hard time proving that you have a right to trespass onto private property to enforce your property rights. As individuals do not possess police enforcement powers, you do not have an inherient right to enter into or onto another individual's property to discover if your property has been taken.

Most judges will take an extremely dim view of this sort of action. You could open yourself and your company up to legal action. I would check with legal, as the company has allowed the situation to develop and you don't want to end up massively in debt from civil lawsuits and potentially be facing criminal charges.

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Honestly....with this situation I'm just blunt

by TomSal In reply to Employees using company s ...

Maybe its my blunt nature, maybe its my non-people person nature that I lean more towards (hey at least I'm being honest), but this situation would be cake for me to solve.

I have been in this situation here and I handled it by flat out asking they bought the software theirself or not.

You can work up to it and ask it in a conversation kind of way, "Oh do flyers and What software you use? Wow...that's expensive, where did you buy your copy at?" That sort of thing.

Me...I just say "So is that your personal copy?"

Amazingly, I've never had anyone get upset with me for being honest. I always tell them the legal reasons why I had to ask that.


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