It is doubtful that a medium or large business exists today that doesn’t use software in some form. Some companies make use of a combination of software systems while others have a single core software system that stands at the heart of their operations.
If you were to remove these systems from the equation, many of these businesses might need to cease operations as there’s simply no efficient manual way of achieving some tasks. Nevertheless, some businesses should technically not have one or more of the important systems that they use due to a lack of appropriate software licensing.
Software systems are usually distributed by a vendor. This can be the individual or company that creates the software, or it can be a third party that has partnered with the developers. The latter is much more common, which is why some software systems such as Microsoft Office and Sage are available from third-party sources.
Software licensing is the act of legally acquiring the right to use a software system. This is always provided upon purchase from an authorized source. The license may be electronic or physical, and it allows access to all purchased features, in addition to any updates that may be a part of the package.
Unfortunately, the advent of technology has resulted in the ability for businesses and individuals to obtain software systems using less than legal means. This means that the developing firms do not get compensated for their work and that the software system is being used in an unlawful and unlicensed state.
The truth is many business decision makers and end users don’t realize that this is taking place as some level of IT experience is usually necessary to circumvent the need to purchase software. Everything functions normally to unaware staff, so they simply carry out their tasks as usual. There are implications attached to using software illegally, and here are a couple of reasons why you should do everything in your power to ensure all the software in your business is licensed.
This one is an ethical implication. Think of your core business offering that yields revenue. Your employees put a lot of work into ensuring that this good or service is delivered and that your customers are satisfied. Now imagine a situation where some customers just decided to not pay for that offering though you provided it.
Clearly, that isn’t fair to your business; your revenue may become skewed, meeting operational expenses could be a problem, and more. This is the kind of position you contribute to for vendors when you steal their software (yes, it is considered stealing).
Every software system has terms of service and standards that outline lawful use. Obviously, illegally obtaining it cannot fall into lawful use. Should vendors detect that you are illegally using their software, they are well within their right to bring a lawsuit against your company. If this happens, both your company’s reputation and its finances could be on the verge of decline.
IT Security Concerns
In most cases, unscrupulous parties on the internet make modifications to the software that allows the bypassing of licensing requirements. Also, these malicious individuals make additions to the installation package that can become catastrophic. Malware can be injected, your company can contract ransomware, and other unsavory things can happen. It isn’t a safe practice to obtain software illegally.
There are usually conditions attached to lawful copies of software that vendors meet. These include feature updates, security updates, version updates, support, warranty periods, etc. Furthermore, some features may be locked to verified licensed copies. You miss out on all this by going the illegal route.