Software Compliance: Is India complying? - The Noel D'cunha Sunday Column

While we acknowledge that compliance with software license agreements is the right thing to do, those who monitor these compliances come across situations where managers either knowingly or unknowingly let staff to use unauthorised software in order to get the job done. As a result, compliance with software licensing agreements becomes an unending task.

22 Mar 2014 | By Noel D'Cunha

While at the Print Pack Sign Digital show in Ahmedabad recently, I bumped into Manoj Kotak of Image Online. He was present at the show with his web-to-print solutions. Among many things we discussed, importance of software compliance and options we have was one.

“Software piracy is an easy habit many of us fall into,” he says. And is it not true that many of us borrow software copies, load it onto multiple computers, even though it is meant for one?

A big chunk of printers belong to the small and medium enterprise, and software license violation can be costly.

Kotak is vehement about software compliance. “It’s high time that printers are made aware about the seriousness of compliance,” he says.

Three things needs to be done, he says, if the printers are to avoid legal action by multi-national software giants’ proclaimed intellectual property rights.

1.    Understand software compliance: Self-audit use within their organisation

2.    Procure license, if they have not

3.    And importantly, learn to make use of options of bring in free software

Kotak explains:

Understanding compliance

When you buy any hardware (computer), you also need to buy an operating system to run the hardware and subsequently software to run applications. You need to procure same number of operating system/software equal to number of machines you have within your organisation.

Procure license

One must understand that software compliance is nothing but counting number of machines that you have, making list of software you need on each of them and tallying with licensees you have procured. There are conditions when using Client Server, which one has to adhere to. Normal practice is hardware vendor copies all the software required or not on every new machine you buy (un-branded / assembled) thereby confusing software compliance.

Most companies keep all software on all the machines for ease of use. Self-audit the use restricting its run (legal copies) only on computers that need it.

Other options

Do we really have better option? Yes, that’s when compliance for using commercial software become too complex and costly; not really when you feel that the cost of software is worth the task it does.

Though the established software giants have built customised software development eco-system in such a way that for using it, you may still need servers or operating systems from those companies, a little research will suggest that there are options that will help you save considerable amount of cost on IT infrastructure.

There are some basic software including operating systems which are absolutely free. These are all-in-one free to download take as little as 10 minutes to install and start. More importantly, they are very robust and run very fast with no known virus so far, hence it eliminates the need to buy anti-virus software.

Kotak concludes by saying, “it's more about evaluating ones need and finding an option. “Initially you might find it difficult to work on free software (which still support and open most files created by commercial software) but when you consider cost you are saving, it will be worth the while.”

Kotak will share his insight on the above in PrintWeek India’s 10 April, 2014 issue.