On software licensing compliance

Browsing through Globe Business Publishing's Lexology briefing, the IPKat discovered a neat little list: "10 simple steps to ensure software licensing compliance" by East-to-West US law firm Goodwin Procter. It's clear, simple and a little scary too.

The IPKat loves lists - and this one's no exception. Without repeating all the 10 steps here, he just wants to add a comment. The advice here is pretty good; the problem is getting businesses, particularly of the small and growing variety, to sit still long enough to read and follow it.

Left: "I've got a little list", sings Koko in The Mikado. Here we see him checking a software licence for bits that actually mean something

Small companies that emerge, merge, demerge, remerge and occasionally submerge tend not to be very good at things like having a central purchasing or IT department. Very often different bits of what is now the same business will have taken software licences at different times, on different terms, in respect of basic or upgraded software with or without service support.

Merpel agrees: in her opinion, most infringement among serious companies is the result of ignorance, inattention, a failure to recognise or prioritise licence-related issues or spending so much time on daily fire-fighting that the niceties of legal use of licensed software seem remote and insignificant. It may take a long time before licensee consciousness is raised to the level at which obvious infringement pot-holes can be circumvented.

Simon Haslam has not forgotten his friend the IPKat, to whom he has recently sent this link to the BBC on the further activities of Music Trading Online (MTO). According to the news item, test purchases of (inter alia) a Robbie Williams CD and the Live Aid DVD have resulted in a return to court for MTO, as the recording companies queue up to stop the online retailer illegally importing CDs from outside the European Economic Area to sell through its CD-Wow website.

Right: Robbie Williams trying to look like IPKat co-blogger Dave Pearce (see portrait in the side-bar)

EMI, Sony and Warner say the CDs have been imported from Hong Kong. CD-Wow said it had not "intentionally" infringed, blaming human error.

The IPKat reminds readers that human error is not a defence against liability so much as a cause of it. Merpel says, never having bought a Robbie Williams CD myself, I wonder how many sales of his works each year are test purchases by recording companies ...

Mathematics of music trading online here
Human error here, here and (most famous error in modern British history) here
On software licensing compliance On software licensing compliance Reviewed by Jeremy on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 Rating: 5


  1. I am mortally offended, as I look nothing like him! (see left: this is my grumpy face).

  2. Mortal offence? Just because I called you "Dave"!


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