Almost every Austrian uses the products of the large software companies, but only a few probably read through their license terms to the end. […]
These are often very extensive and sometimes also written in English. The terms and conditions are usually even more complex when small IT service providers rent large software packages for themselves and their business customers. “In the event of an erroneous over-licensing, the IT companies harm themselves, in the event of a sub-licensing, high additional payments threaten during audits. Both can be very expensive“” explains Rüdiger Linhart, professional group spokesman for the Viennese IT service providers. The UBIT Vienna Specialist Group is now offering help.
License checks by the major licensors are not that rare: as a survey conducted by the Viennese IT service providers among their member companies showed, 23 percent have already made acquaintance with it one or more times. The reason for this is that service providers or IT service providers regularly rent larger software packages, server capacities or other packages subject to licensing for themselves and their business customers. “Each of these companies is obliged to submit a report about it at the end of the month: for example, how many desktop licenses they have issued, or how many server licenses they have used in their data centers,” explains Viennese IT professional group spokesman Rüdiger Linhart.
Ongoing reports, self-reports and audits
In addition to the monthly reports, every IT service provider can be subjected to a license check by the licensors at irregular intervals. And not only for himself, but also for his business customers. According to the survey, 34% of IT service providers had indicated that their customers had already been affected. Usually, the companies are first asked to provide a detailed self-disclosure. However, the licensors can also commission auditing firms with so-called license audits to check the number of registered licenses. But it’s not just about the quantity, but also whether the right packages have been reported – not always an easy task given the complex licensing conditions.
Risk of over- and under-licensing
“Especially for smaller IT companies without their own legal department or legal experts, there is a risk that they will react incorrectly in view of the stressful situation during an audit and there will be re-licensing,” explains the professional group spokesman. Then there is the risk that there will be additional payments, which in some cases can even be very high – although these additional costs cannot easily be subsequently charged to your own customers. In addition, the licensing conditions are usually highly complex: this not only creates the risk of sublicensing, but also of overlicensing, which means that IT service providers can harm themselves unnoticed for years.
Webinars on prevention and funded legal advice
“It is important to us that fair conditions prevail for all sides. That is why we have jointly considered a package of measures that also has a very strong preventive character,“ explains Martin Puaschitz, Chairman of the Vienna Specialist Group for Management Consulting, Accounting and Information Technology (UBIT Vienna). “However, we not only offer free webinars to Viennese IT companies, but also financially support the use of legal advice in this context,” promises Puaschitz.