201110.10
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Do Vendors Use Software Audits to Scare Up New Contracts?

By Peter Procaccio, – IAITAM 

There are several items to be concerned about when facing an audit from a software publisher. Software Licenses are permissive documents – they explain what you are permitted to do. Anything else is not permitted. Most licenses have a clause that gives them to audit your system for compliance. In all case of non-compliance the real issue is keeping your “proof of purchase”. If you cannot provide a document proving that you purchased the license, that the vendor consideres valid, then in all likelyhood they consider that a breach of the license. I also take issue with Mark Zorro’s comment that the auditors are not going after those that are poor managers. That is exactly who the BSA and SIIA and the software “Swat Teams” are going after. They leave the big counterfiters to the FBI and other government agencies. I am personnally aware of a small company with 18 PCs that was fined approximately $50,000 (their total costs exceeded $170,000) by a compliance agency.There are several items to be concerned about when facing an audit from a software publisher. Software Licenses are permissive documents – they explain what you are permitted to do. Anything else is not permitted. Most licenses have a clause that gives them to audit your system for compliance. In all case of non-compliance the real issue is keeping your “proof of purchase”. If you cannot provide a document proving that you purchased the license, that the vendor consideres valid, then in all likelyhood they consider that a breach of the license. I also take issue with Mark Zorro’s comment that the auditors are not going after those that are poor managers. That is exactly who the BSA and SIIA and the software “Swat Teams” are going after. They leave the big counterfiters to the FBI and other government agencies. I am personnally aware of a small company with 18 PCs that was fined approximately $50,000 (their total costs exceeded $170,000) by a compliance agency.

They were not actual criminals. They upgraded most of the office PCs that had a CAD system using dongles. They failed to delete the software when they moved the old PCs to the shop floor. Since the dongles were only used on the new office machines, they felt that tey were ok. Surprise when an ex-employee turned them in to the compliance agency and they were found in violation of the license agreement terms. Another small firm had similar fines and extra costs, but their problem was poor management. They were sure they had donen othing wrong, but did not keep accurate records (credit card and cash receipts thrown away, decentralised purchasing, ..etc. Are the audits wrong? NO. Shoudl companies keep better track YES. By the way. Knowing what you have, where it is, what versions, and so forth actually saves money. Implementing a total hardware and software information technology asset management plan (ITAM) is a quick ROI.