Software licenses for businesses

As your business grows, you will want to keep your IT system integrated, which means buying multiple copies of the same piece of software. Buying the same thing over and over again may feel like a waste of resources, but unfortunately, software manufacturers are protective and you could end up in court. This guide will help you to understand software licensing.

  • Software licenses and the law
  • Types of software license
  • Creating a software management policy

Software licenses and the law

Most software is protected under intellectual property law, which means you can't copy or reproduce it in any form - this includes distributing the same piece of software to multiple computers, and, in the UK, copyright law.  If you are discovered copying or distributing the software, you and your business could end up in court.

  • Most software is protected under intellectual property law
  • Software is also protected under UK copyright law
  • If you are discovered copying software, you could end up in court

Types of software license

There are three different types of software license: 'shrink-wrap' license, which is the license stated on the box when you buy a piece of software. This usually limits use to one user. Multiple-user licenses state a maximum number of users within a business who can simultaneously use a piece of software. Site licenses allow anyone on particular premises to use the software.

  • Shrink-wrap licenses usually limit use to one person
  • Multiple-user licenses state a maximum number of simultaneous users
  • Site licenses allow anyone on particular premises to use the software

Creating a software management policy

If you don't have an IT department and your employees install their own software, it's worth creating a policy which sets out how you use software. In the policy, explain that software is protected under UK law, and the consequences to both the employee and the company of using unlicensed software. A sample policy is available from the  Business Software Alliance (BSA) website.

  • Create a policy which sets out how the business uses software
  • Explain the law and consequences of using unlicensed software
  • A sample policy is available from the  BSA website

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