A good Software Asset Management program ensures that you have the software licenses required to conduct your everyday business efficiently. As you may know, software is a form of intellectual property (IP), and a software license governs the usage and redistribution of that property. Having a clear understanding of what intellectual property is will help in understanding why SAM is so important. IP can be defined as a product that has commercial value but is physically intangible, such as releases of music, books, movies, and software.
Intellectual property is different from physical property because it is an intangible product of the human mind. You can read a novel or listen to a song, but the actual work is owned by the writer of the book or the song. Automobiles, computers, and buildings are tangible pieces of property, but a song or a software application is not. We can write code and create the software application, put it on a CD, and distribute it so that millions of people can use it at the same time, but the CD is not the work; the software itself is.
There are three basic and accepted types of intellectual property (and corresponding laws that protect them):
Software and Copyright
Software is protected under copyright law. A copyright is legal protection that governments offer to the creators of intellectual property, which grants them certain rights to their work. These include the right to:
Intellectual property is much easier to copy than it is to create. It may take many months, or even years of work to write a novel, song, or computer program. However, with today’s technology, others could copy the work and distribute it around the globe in moments. The copyright is meant to protect the work and prevent copying or distribution against the will of the creator.
The copyright tries to balance two seemingly opposing concerns. On the one hand, protection must be strong enough to encourage authors and inventors to invest the necessary time and effort to create their work. On the other hand, the law must also allow people the freedom to use the intellectual property of others. This is because artistic, technological, and commercial progress involves building on the work of others. It is a difficult balance to strike, and it requires that laws constantly evolve.
Because of these challenges, in an attempt to reverse the overwhelming amounts of IP being copied and distributed without the permission of the creator, most nations of the world signed the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in 1994, which is administered by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Intellectual Property and SAM
As a work of intellectual property, software is protected under the copyright laws of most governments of the world. Therefore software manufacturers have the authority of the governments represented to make sure that they are adequately compensated for their works.
Software companies support their finished products and provide updates and fixes for genuine software to help keep it functioning properly. When the software is not a genuine product, it is usually not eligible to receive manufacturer’s technical support, virus protection, warranty information, or any other software updates. By having all the proper licensing, you not only help protect the creators of the software and the software itself, you ultimately protect the interests of your own business. By not remaining compliant with licensing requirements and/or using counterfeit or pirated software, you can fall prey to any malware, virus, and any other non-genuine software that the copier added to the software that may cause security breaches or network downtime after the software is deployed. These risks underscore the importance of having a plan in place to ensure you know what software you have, where you are using it, and if it is in fact genuine. Learn about genuine Microsoft software
How to tell whether your software is genuine
With a good SAM plan in place, you will know your licensing status and needs. You can save money by not buying licenses you don’t need. You optimize your assets and ensure quality control in your business. By helping to protect the work of others, you are also protecting your own work.