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licensing user owned sftware on co PC

By ajose ·
I am working helpdesk at a company that provides it's independent contractor sales agents with a computer. Sometimes these sales people want to install their own software, such as ACT, Goldmine, ect..

Aside from having them bring in their valid software license before being permitted to install, should the company be taking any more steps to ensure that it's computers are in compliance with software licensing.

For instance, should the company keep the user's software license for it's own records? Any info or links to licensing resources would be appreciated. Thanks.

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by jschein In reply to licensing user owned sftw ...

In a corporate environment, for the IS Dept., LICENSING is key. You have no license, you pay serious ducketts to the auditors if they're nice and don't file any lawsuits and revoke your previous licenses.

Any corporate environment for the IS dept. has a few tough choices. And that is END USER SOFTWARE and End User Admin Rights. Both are bad, but good if controlled properly.

End user software should be installed by the IS Dept. and only the IS Dept. After installation, the software has been installed on a company pc and that software, along with the ORIGINAL license code stored into inventory and marks as end user's name. ANY Audit requires you show proof. Copies are not proof.

Admin rights. Some say give em, most say don't. Give them if you have full backing from the higher ups and explain to them the pitfalls of giving and not giving them. Also, ensure you have a set software policy of not allowing end users to install ANY software, screensavers, pictures, porn, etc... and it must all come back to you for verification / installation.

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by ajose In reply to

Thanks for the tips, fortunately everyone is setup as a standard user so they cannot install their own software. Unfortunately, requests for software installs are frequent, especially for PDA's.

The company's policy was that only valid licensed Contact Management software or PDA's are considered. I argued that it didn't go far enough. The problem is that even though I'm told not to support their software inevitably problems arise so it's still a drain on my time. Also, liability was a problem if the company was not keeping all software licenses in its own possession.

There's so many possible pitfalls with the current situation that I would rather leave if they don't change their policy.

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by macGold In reply to licensing user owned sftw ...

The simple answer is that Users should not load their software on the company computers; administrators should set Users' privileges on company computers so Users cannot add SW; the company must establish and maintain written policies and evidence of compliance to the forementioned rules; and the kicker, if a sales rep needs ACT or Goldmine, the company should buy it, load it, and hold the license. The other option is for the sales rep to buy his/her own pc and keep ACT or Goldmine there.

The problem I see is splitting the responsibility for "showing" that all your software installations are legal, whenteh authorities arrive with a "show-cause order" from court. That order may go to the sales rep, company, or both. So it is hard to split the responsibility, and more importantly, split the liability. As long as the company does not control, within its ability, what is loaded on their machines, there will be higher risk. That risk not only includes being found guilty, but also risk of having to "show" that you have acted in compliance with your license agreement--an effort that may require more time, effort, and costs than good control in advance or proving compliance afterwards.

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by ajose In reply to

I agree with your answer, users should bring in their own PC if they want to use their own software.

The company that I work for was trying to be flexible with it's sales agents. Obviously the risks outweigh any benefits.

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by Albert Franco II In reply to licensing user owned sftw ...

Short answer: No.

Their license is almost sure to not be valid on your machine since it is almost 100% probable that they have a one seat license and already have it installed on their own computer. Therefor, the copy they install on your computer is not licensed. The fine or penalty will be yours--not theirs.

Also you aquire the obligation to know thw license terms of their software, to know what problems or conflicts their software can cause in your environment, and to provide technical service for an ever expanding range of software. In short, a lot more work for you.

ANY software should be installed by IT/IS and never end users. Never give admin rights to end users, especially non-employees. Why do I say especially non-employees? Because they tend to have shorter duration with the company; depending on policies contract employees may feel they don't get treated as well as others (lack benefits, etc) and therefor maybe more likely to be disgruntled; and may have a lower level of loyalty to the firm since they are "just temporary". Others may argue that subcontractors can actually be more professional since they can specialize, but let's be honest most companies use contractors as sales staff to pay less taxes and avoid other costs. This translates to increased risk for the Info system.

Another issue is whose customers are they? The contract worker or your firm? Why would you want customer data in a foriegn format if the customers are property of the company? Should the contractor be allowed to take this information out of the company? If not, I sure wouldn't facilitate it by using their choice of software. If the information belongs to your company what mecanism will you use to move data between all the different software so that the next slaesperson has access to past data?

It's a quagmire that you probably should avoid.

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by ajose In reply to

Thanks, the consensus is clear: Avoid installing user software under any circumstance since the liability lies with the company.

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by ajose In reply to licensing user owned sftw ...

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