Validation of correct licensing: Beware of pirated software

Beware of pirated software in your company

Many companies are receiving during these days a communication from Microsoft in which they explain that they were selected to participate in the process of validation of correct licensing and therefore they attach a few links and files that must be filled in to inform about the equipment that is in the company and the respective software of that brand that they have installed.

The communication indicates that the review process will serve four aspects:

  1. Consolidation of all licensing records in a report that may be maintained or modified by the organization in the future.
  2. Assistance for a better understanding of licensing rules and, particularly, how it applies to each specific situation.
  3. Avoid licensing risks.
  4. Availability of advice and experience regarding licensing through a free process and with specialized agents.

The report also serves to prepare for the Management Report as required by Law 603 of 2000 and Circular 002 of 2011 of the Superintendence of Companies.

At the end of the process, and once it is verified that everything is in order, the company will receive a certificate valid for one year, which certifies that its software is duly licensed.

Illegality due to lack of knowledge

On the subject of the legality of the software, I was talking with a professional with more than thirty years of experience in licensing Microsoft products, and he explained that these auditing processes are done because in the Most of the countries in Latin America, piracy is above 50%.

Software companies do the audits, including with law firms, and in some cases include an unannounced visit, in which they arrive accompanied by an expert, with which they make an inventory of everything installed and request the licensing tests. Then compare. If there are missing, illegality can be incurred, which generates three consequences: They force you to buy the software you are using, indemnify the manufacturer and additionally pay the legal proceedings.

Then I added that illegality is not the same as piracy and, to make it clearer, explains that in most cases the irregularities in licensing are not given in bad faith but because of ignorance, because the software management system has a high complexity level.

Due to this situation there are many cases in which the company has the licenses but a different product than the one they are using and that constitutes an irregular situation.

For example: Someone buys Windows Home for a team and takes it to work in the company. As you can not connect to the network, what they do is install another Windows, which can be connected but does not correspond to the license you bought, believing that having acquired a version entitles you to use any other, which does not true. That is the most common mistake.

Another frequent error arises when people buy the computer with Windows and think that having it original gives them the right to install the Office because they believe it is the same without differentiating that one is the operating system and the other is the office suite and the two are sold separately.

So the recommendations of experts are the following:

  • See the software as a productivity tool because it is part of a process that generates profitability and savings in the company.
  • Save in the same site all the supports related to the purchase of software, which include invoices, licenses and boxes, among others.

It also suggests reviewing what specific products are required in a job, because it is not always necessary to buy the entire Office. For example, someone who only needs to write communications can only buy Word and anyone who works with tables and numbers can only purchase and install Excel.

It warns that the fact of buying the software in the box does not guarantee its legality, since they detected that there is a lot of counterfeit software circulating in different countries of Latin America, which forces to be very careful where the purchase is made.

Good idea to have an advice

My conclusion is that it is a good idea to have a consulting company that will build an inventory of the software installed in the computers and that will review all the required documentation such as Proof of License (POL) properly when there is an audit of Microsoft. This advisor will provide a report on the licensing status and will say which ones are already there and which are missing and, in that second case, will explain the step to follow to correct the situation and have the software on the agenda and legal, which represents very quiet, which allows focusing on the essence and purpose of the company.