I grew up in small town in the western part of the US. During Junior High, we had 1 hour lunch
period, which left just enough time to walk to the local hamburger stand, grab
some food and get back in time for afternoon classes. On occasion, we would skip lunch and just
hang out in some of the stores along Main Street.
Being young and foolish, my friends and I thought it would
be cool to go into one of the stores, slip a candy bar into our coat pocket and
leave without paying. We thought this would get us a free candy bar. What it did lead to was explaining our
mistake to our parents as well as the local Judge. Neither of them thought it was very cool. I don’t remember the amends required within the legal system. However, my parents did not shy away from
real punishment. Rather than a hand, a
paddle or a belt, my parents kept a razor strap hung behind the kitchen door. I remember they used it on this occasion.
Over the course of my professional career, I have worked
with a few companies that have violated Software License Agreements. The items below will help you understand these agreements and
avoid violating them as well as the embarrassment, fines and penalties that go
with such violations. Working with companies who violate these agreements, we pick
our terms carefully. We talk about being
in violation of the license agreement; we call it a compliance issue and
sometimes call it piracy. We hesitate
to call it stealing. When I stood in front of my parents, the judge and even the
storeowners, they referred to my crime as shoplifting. This sounded better than stealing; although
we all knew my friends and I were a 13-year-old thieves.
Whether we call it compliance, piracy, or something else,
when you use software without a legal license you are stealing from the company
who created the software. I am not a lawyer and claim no legal knowledge. As outlined in the confession above, I do
have some minimal experience, though many years ago, as a thief.
Here are ten things you should know about your software
license agreement. I use the Siemens
agreements for Solid Edge, NX, FEMAP, to create this list. However, these are similar to most software
agreements for similar products.
1) Read and understand the agreement. With some products, (NX/Unigraphics and
Teamcenter) this is a written document signed during the purchase process. With others (Solid Edge and FEMAP), this is
an on-line agreement you accept when you install the software. Once you install the software, the license
agreement is legally binding. The
agreement is the final definition of your terms of ownership and use.
2) You buy a license, not the software. You don’t buy software and thus don’t
actually own software. You purchase a License
to use the software under the terms outlined in the agreement. Software is
protected under copyright and other similar laws and remains the property of
Siemens PLM Software.
3) Only you can use the software. If purchased by an individual, you can use
the software. If You are a company, your
employees can use the software. A
contractor located at your facility can also use it. A contractor not at your facility cannot use
it. No other company can use it – not
even another company you own or a subsidiary of your company.
4) Where can you use it? You purchase the license in a Territory –
this is typically a country. You can use it within that country and not
outside that country. There are global
licenses for some products, but these are very rare and have extra agreements, higher
costs, minimum purchases and other additional terms.
5) The license is non-transferrable. You cannot re-distribute the license in any
way. You cannot sell it, give it away,
loan it, etc. Even if your company is
acquired, the license is not transferred without the agreement of the owner of
6) You cannot analyze the software for any purpose
competitive to Siemens PLM Software. If
you conduct benchmarks or tests with the software, the results of those tests
are the confidential information of Siemens and you cannot publish them or
reveal them to any third party.
7) There are special terms in the agreement
covering Student Licenses, Academic Licenses, Trial Licenses, etc. Using this software for any commercial
purpose (anything you are paid for), violates the agreement. A non-student using a student version is also
8) Compliance with the agreement. The vendor reserves two right s relating to
compliance with this agreement: a) they can embed mechanisms into the software
to monitor compliance with the license agreement; b) you
agree cooperate with any investigation into the violation of the agreement
including access to your facility, your computers, etc.
9) Home use Licenses – Solid Edge (and only Solid
Edge) provides a home use license. This
allows a person who uses the software 80% of the time at work, to have a copy
on a home computer or laptop. Only this
individual is authorized to use the home use license. No-one else inside our outside your company
can use this license.
10) Maintenance Services – the agreement outlines
the services provided as part of your maintenance agreement. You should review these terms as well. Violation of the license agreement (software piracy) is a
significant business issue for software vendors. The Business
Software Alliance tracks and prosecutes software piracy. They report over $63
Billion worth of software was pirated (stolen) in 2011. BSA estimates that 24% of software used in developed
countries (42% worldwide) is obtained illegally. Software Piracy is theft.
In legal terms, it is copyright infringement. It carries criminal fines up to $250,000 and
5 years in prison as well as civil penalties up to $150,000 per
infringement. Multiple infringements mean multiple penalties.
To learn more about software piracy, you can visit the BSA
www site at www.bsa.org.
If you have a specific situation, you would like to discuss or
if you think you might be in violation of your agreement, give me a call or
drop me an e-mail. We can discuss it
while we share a legally-purchased candy bar.
Don’t wait for the Piracy Police to knock on your door. The fines, penalties and jail time could kill
Director of Corporate Sales
PROLIM PLM Solutions