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Software license review available to UK companiestest

FAST Corporate Services : 02 July, 2009  (New Product)
The commercial arm of FAST is offering UK companies the opportunity to review their compliance to software licensing requirements to avoid exposure to prosecution
FAST Ltd, a UK Software Asset Management and IT Compliance company, providing software, education, consulting and managed services has launched a campaign to provide help to those organisations who are concerned that they might become the next victim of a crackdown on software piracy.

It follows Soho House Group's decision to agree a settlement with the Business Software Alliance (BSA) for alleged unlicensed use of software. The London-based company, famous for its Soho House, Babington House and Soho House New York venues, was investigated by the BSA for alleged under-licensing of Microsoft software. The parties reached a settlement and Soho House subsequently paid an undisclosed sum to the BSA.

At the beginning of June, the BSA launched a two-month campaign aimed at companies in London, encouraging users to pay for their software. London has the highest incidence of piracy in the UK - even when a company insists it made an unintentional oversight or blunder. The Soho House case, which is thought to involve a considerable sum, demonstrates how the onus is on businesses to prove they have bought their software legitimately.

If a software publisher or other body decides to audit an organisation's software, it will cause significant disruption to the business as well as potential damage to the company's reputation by being named and shamed should unlicensed software be found. Soho House is a case in point.

Andy Pearce, Managing Director for FAST Ltd comments: "Without good software asset management, companies could also be spending too much on software as well as too little. More than 40 percent of UK businesses find they are over-licensed on software and in these difficult economic times, cost control is more important than ever. Sure you don't want any unexpected costs or settlement costs but equally you don't want to be paying for software you are not using. We're here to help and in response to the BSA's London campaign, we have also launched an initiative to provide companies with some options ahead of a rather more embarrassing and nasty disclosure. After all, it makes a lot of sense to get this under control yourself, before you are forced to."

The BSA, one of a number of umbrella trade bodies that enforce copyright law on behalf of members, says its biggest recent settlement in the UK was £250,000 in 2007. Last year, it carried out 294 legal actions in the UK. The value of legal settlements achieved by the BSA on behalf of its members in the UK for the illegal use of unlicensed software is 25 times up on the same period in 2008. For example:

• In April two Belfast companies were hit with settlement fees of more than £15,000 for using unlicensed software
• Two Scottish companies recently paid almost £150,000 in settlement costs after being found to be using unlicensed software

To help combat this problem, FAST Ltd is offering a FAST Licence Review for companies concerned about their current licensing situation. This review service can quickly determine whether a company is able to provide proof of entitlement for the software it is using. On completion of a review of the current situation, FAST's licensing experts will produce an Effective Licence Position (ELP) for the software.

By carrying out a FAST Licence Review companies will:

• Have accurate information to submit to vendors and enforcement bodies when requested
• Ensure they have the correct number of licences for software installed
• Be able to take steps to mitigate the risk if under-licensed software is identified
• Be in a better position to negotiate future software licensing contracts
• Avoid paying for licences that they don't need

A recent survey conducted by FAST IiS in October 2008, showed that although 75 percent of companies have in place a Software Asset Management policy, 38 percent admitted that they had only a basic understanding of their software licences. This lack of transparency can leave businesses open to the threat of the legal and financial consequences of under and over licensing. This is clearly not a good situation to be in under any circumstances, but especially not in the tough economic climate we are currently experiencing.

Pearce continues: 'At FAST we certainly believe that education is better than prosecution which is why we are encouraging companies to come forward and to take up our FAST Licence Review option."

FAST Ltd recently launched its own software compliance tool, FAST Compliance Manager, to help customers better manage their software compliance and gain a clear view of their entitlement and usage rights. It also offers a wide range of professional, consulting and managed services to UK organisations that want to benefit from smarter IT and software asset management strategies, and ensure they have a legally compliant IT infrastructure.
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