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.
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.
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.
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.
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