Understanding the licence model of a piece of software is a fundamental step in defining a licence compliance position.

It is true that most desktop focussed software applications follow the install based licence model, i.e. if the application is installed then a licence is required, but don't assume that this all you need to work on.

The point to make is that this only represents some of the software licensing that you need to take account of in today's world.

A significant proportion of your software purchases will be dictated by other forms of licence model such as those based on the number of:
  • Users
  • Devices
  • Processors
  • Processor cores
  • Data quantities

Knowing which model to apply is crucial in ensuring that your licences actually grant the legal entitlement for the software that has been deployed.

Publishers have not made this task any easier by often offering more than one type of licence model for any given product, for example user based licences or device based licences.

The publishers defend this offer of variety in the name of customer choice.  Unfortunately the flip side of the same coin is that it is all too easy for the publisher to prove that any given licence is not valid when applied to the software deployment in question.

Top tips:
- Ensure that you understand the licence model for all priority software products that your organisation uses.

- If the licence model isn't clear when you purchase a product, then ask the publisher to clarify the situation precisely and get the answer in writing.

- For existing software in your organisation, check the licence documentation and then confirm with the publisher if it still isn't clear.

NB - Don't take the word of your reseller as conclusive proof. Written proof from a publisher is the only force to be reckoned with - Is it proof of licence?

And finally, don't rely on inventory tools to give you the answer or do the work for you.  The contract or the licence is always the last word in what counts and what doesn't as far as licence models go.

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