Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Software Licensing

Sometimes I have to wonder...

I've been having an, aahhhh... a conversation with a well known SBS community member about Licensing issues. Someone posed a question about OEM Licenses being used for emergency restore to a backup server and whether this would be legal if there was a Full package Product license sitting on the shelf.

Since the Microsoft OEM EULAs (End User Licensing Agreement) clearly outlaw installation of any OEM software (workstation OS, server OS or regular applications) on a machine other than that with which it was sold UNLESS this other machine is an under-warranty, non-upgrade replacement of the machine that OEM software was originally installed on, then what was being asked about is a clear breach of the EULA, therefore copyright law. In other words, if you were to do this, the OEM EULA clearly states that you will be running unlicensed software and therefore subjected to the relevant laws and punishments under those laws.

The MVP in question - someone that Microsoft has in the past recognised as contributing (beneficially) to the SBS community - feels that in an emergency, the EULA (therefore) the law can be ignored. I don't remember seeing this clause in either the EULA nor in any copyright law I have read - and I'll now add that IANAL.

All up, as well as the need to get a client back online as quickly and reliably as possible, as an IT Consultant, I also have a responsibility to ensure that my clients are operating in a legal fashion, abiding by copyright and other laws. Again, IANAL, but its clear to me that if an EULA states that software cannot be installed on another computer then it means exactly that. Breaching this condition is placing a client in breach of Copyright Law and results in unlicensed software being used. This is simply something I have no intention of doing to any of our clients.

Generally I find that our clients appreciate us keeping them in compliance with Copyright Law - and they have 302,500 federally funded reasons to back them up!