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Technology Mistake #4: Illegal or Unlicensed Software

The fourth technology misstep that often affects businesses is using illegal or non-licensed software.

Possessing illegal software may be the easiest trap into which many organizations fall. The issue is certainly widespread (the Business Software Alliance estimates 22 percent of all North American software is unlicensed), making it our fourth common tech mistake plaguing businesses.

Certainly, licensing issues quickly prove perplexing. The differences between OEM, retail and open license software escapes the understanding of many business owners. Yet, manufacturers are becoming more aggressive in locking down licenses (via product activation technologies) and prosecuting offenders, often via the BSA (Currency
and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act), which has collected more than $81 million in settlements.

Many organizations don’t recognize they do not “own” software (instead programs and applications are commonly licensed).  Worse, some firms use “borrowed” applications or pirated programs.

Problems arise either in the form of audits and penalties or challenging delays (due to product activation conflicts and other licensing issues) when returning failed systems to operation.


Businesses must understand there are no shortcuts to running legitimate operations. All software, applications and programs must be properly licensed.

With more manufacturers implementing product activation features, in which software programs report their installation and usage back to the manufacturer, overuse or outright piracy is becoming more difficult or impossible. But violations still occur.

Businesses can protect against licensing errors and penalties, and help ensure the fastest recovery times when failures occur, by carefully documenting and tracking all software license purchases and deployments.

Further, software licenses (including for operating systems, business line and office productivity applications, accounting programs, security tools and other utilities) should only be purchased from reputable technology partners. License sales on eBay that look too good to be true, normally are.

Last, when installing new programs, organizations should pay close attention to the license agreements they accept when installing the software.


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