Software licenses for PC bought from failed dotcom - no license info came with box

Posted on 2002-03-13
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2006-11-17
One of our employees is using a PC they purchases from their last employer. It has NT4 and lots of software loaded. They want to connect it to our network and use it at work.

They have no license or receipt other than their cancelled check. They got the PC and its software at fire-sale prices.

If we audit the software on the PC, and copy the cancelled check together with an audit of the software, the employee could sign to say they have license, etc.

However, this seems to fall quite short of licensing requirements for a PC we would be considering connecting to our network and using in-house.

Any references to show our legal department that this is DEFINITELY insufficient, or MAY BE sufficient? Any suggestions for dealing with this situation? Thanks! Will increase points if needed.
Question by:esc_toe_account
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Expert Comment

ID: 6862880
From MS Windows 2000 EULA Text:

Is it legal for me to sell software that I have bought and used?

In some circumstances, yes, as long as you follow the terms of transfer outlined in your license agreement. You may not rent or lease the software, but you may transfer your rights under the End User License Agreement (EULA) on a permanent basis provided you transfer all copies of the software and all written materials, including the original license agreement and the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) where applicable. For any valid transfer, the software recipient must agree to the terms of the EULA. Any transfer must include the most recent product upgrade as well as any prior versions that you have.

Prior to transferring your software, you must remove all copies of the product from your computer, including your portable computer, in instances where a second copy is allowed.

If you want to transfer software that was licensed under a multiple license pack, you must transfer all the product copies to a single new owner. Microsoft License Paks cannot be broken up.

Many Microsoft products distributed by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) may not be transferred under any circumstances. Check the terms of the EULA accompanying the OEM products to determine transferability.

What if my product doesn't have an End User License Agreement (EULA)?

The EULA is an important part of your software product and should always accompany legally licensed Microsoft software. If you work for a company that has delegated software purchasing and management to a systems administrator, the systems administration department should be able to supply you with proof that your software is legally licensed. If you purchased your software from a store, through a mail-order catalog, or even from an individual, and a EULA did not accompany the product, you may have purchased illegal software. Illegal software, commonly called "pirated" software, may expose you and/or your business to legal liabilities. If you suspect you have an unauthorized copy of the software, or have concerns about the legal ramifications of using such software, see the questions in this Help document concerning software piracy.

In what ways can I use the software over a network?

The End User License Agreement (EULA) permits you to store a copy of the software on a storage device used as a network file server, for the purpose of installing the software on computers connected to that storage device through your internal network. In addition, you may install the software on a storage device used as a network applications server, so that computers connected to that storage device through your internal network can run the software from that source. You must acquire and dedicate a license for each separate computer on which the software is installed and for each computer that runs the software from the storage device. By dedicating a license to a particular computer, you are assigning the license exclusively to that computer for an indefinite period of time. A license to use a particular copy of the software may not be shared or used concurrently on different computers.

LVL 24

Accepted Solution

SunBow earned 220 total points
ID: 6866844
No, you are not sufficient
First, valid NT has valid license. Display and record it, then hurry up to get the patches for all the holes in it.

Second, find out what those misc. apps really are. I'll give you 2-1 odds you want no employee to run at least half of them. Possibly the remainder may be desirable and have license display capability.

So - need more info, but i Think it's rebuild time

Why'd they go under anyway? Were they being pursued/sued as pirateer? Did people learn what they received was loaded with junkware? Maybe preloaded with virus?

I think you got more at stake here, to research separately, than mitts_full of EULAs that are likely invalid.

You are likely better off being nice, get them real new modern PC for work, and let the employees take the fire-sale stuff home to do with as they wish, as long as they don't plug into intranet. They can compare notes later on their findings, re: licenses, SW value, and save you on legwork, research, and other misc headaches
LVL 24

Expert Comment

ID: 6866861
did you try XP? I swear mine said over and over there's only one time ever choice to match one SW license with one HW config and vice versa, and only one XP is the only OS ever allowed on any part of that piece of HW, forever!
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LVL 24

Expert Comment

ID: 6866882
>If we audit the software on the PC, and copy the cancelled check together with an audit of the software, the employee could sign to say they have license, etc.

Not really. But good CYA if BSA ever shows up. AND, since you are talking NT4 you are also talking old SW that is no longer supported, or won't be soon, so the inventory is really a fair case for the defense.

During audit, do try to include any datestamp info that you can, version level numbers, etc., to ensure that no modern packages were cloned overseas and snuck onto the box (not too legal that).

If there is a favorite product found, consider asking mfr for an official bye, letting you run free as a teaser to upgrade to their latest more expensive model.  Odds are pretty good that a lot of the wares really are freely provided for that very reason.

Expert Comment

ID: 6867417
SunBow.. Really!!! That cant be, what if you need to upgrade, ack!!!! I was going to upgrading to XP soon, but, now, I may rethink that... I mean, really what do i need to for at home?? Win98 works just fine, all is config'd solid, 3D is super happy, apps are fast, and i dont really do that much "power user" crap..

Hmmm, thank you very much for that interesting piece of info... kinda weak on MS's part... but that's not really a surprise.


LVL 24

Expert Comment

ID: 6877192
Another weakness... while so far I kinda like interface, operations, things 'seem' to work, compatibly..

XP has some annoying habit of losing dumping the current task, returning either to display all users or the main explorer window.

Maybe half the time the program/task is down on taskbar, half the time I'm left with ziltch. It just disappears with so sign as to why (quicker than deleting via task manager).

I guess I can say, that I can verify 'crashes less', for it is not blue screening, just plain loses what was. FWIW it may be related to H/W driver, mouse/VGA timing. But on occasion it is just going asleep, like it has a weekly schedule to do so or something. Maybe looking for way to "phone home" while I am disconnected from net.

What's cool is it can lead to screen of usernames, where last user has added description like "(three programs running)" which may work out for someone's family lifestyle, switching from one member to another while maintaining a bookmark for the prior session(s).

Another EULA consideration is to get a lawyer to interpret... One way I read it is that you can only connect it to "up to five" other devices, like computers, printers, and that you can't change your mind about which ones you communicate with later. Another of the "make up your mind now before continuing, for you won't get another chance".   Five may be reasonable for home, but definitely not for internet, and definitely not sensitive to marketplace that changes definition of platform every couple months.
LVL 24

Expert Comment

ID: 6877200
Thanx, I hope it all works out for you <fingers-crossed>.
Good Fortune!

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