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Software License Enquiry

Posted on 2002-05-26
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Last Modified: 2011-09-20
Dear all:

We happen to find that our corporate user develop a software using Visual Basic and place in a network drive F: to be shared by various user.  Can anyone tell me if it is legal to do it like that?

Meanwhile, are there any companies in HK that helps corporate to keep/handle/liable for the software license problem?
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Question by:cbgold
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15 Comments
 
LVL 70

Expert Comment

by:Éric Moreau
ID: 7036783
If you pay 1 license for each developper you won't have problems (even if they all use a single copy on your server).
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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:ygal02
ID: 7037060
I don't fully understand.
1. Did he put a software that he developed (with VB) in a network drive ? Or the VB environment (or part of it) itself ?
2. Is he using a licensed copy of VB ?

If the answers are:
1.An executable file of an application he developed with VB.
AND
2.Yes
Then absolutely there is no problem with that (that's what VB is for).
Otherwise (1. OR 2. answer is not as above) then something is wrong...


Good Luck.
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LVL 24

Accepted Solution

by:
SunBow earned 100 total points
ID: 7063754
When a language is used to develop a product, both it and its output (a program) are part of same package.

For licensing, it is best to maintain a good accounting system. For control it is wise to have locked cabinet to place all cd's in, and to maintain lists of each purchase, and which staff is to use which one.

For, loading software it is often best to deal with copies, to ensure that your backup system works.

For some products, like VB, there are, unfortunately, many ways that a developer can toss in a minor piece to a program, for which someone (a relative?), has laid claim to ownership warranting lease or license. I say that to help you to beware and be cautious. Especially with popular products and the numerous addons that some people, staff, may incorporate (pretending they did the work?). A lot of them are simple 'pretties' that are unnecessary to the business, but may actually increase numerous failures, either by neglect or design. You know you must beware of such freewares and free downloads of things you know not what they are (big cause of computer glitches, downtime, virus)

Once you have that cabinet handy, make folders for the written license verbage that comes with each product purchased. This is essential to understanding such questions later, when they arise. Don't just let employees handle the whole mess, install what they want and then throw out the cartons etc so no one can ever find the books that came with it, or licenses, or CDs for that matter.

Also try to enforce more diligence in completing any licensing forms, mailing them in, and keeping a copy for your records.

You may have purchased five copies of a product, for five developers, but then three of them left and you hired two more.

In such case, you are entitled to reuse the license for them, and not have to buy more. It is you, owner, purchaser who gets license. Not user/staff/developer.

My opinion. I've heard there are differing opinions from a handful of Microsoft salesmen. Don't listen to them. Make it more into common sense, wait and look for better marketers, and IMO you will succeed and prevail.

But concerning any local laws, such as HK I am illiterate, just having confidence in our fellow compadres around globe that reason and good sense shall prevail. Given the web, connecting the world, this is quite achievable.

Generally, the liable part your company won't be able to offload. Beware anyone who claim to do so for fee. Just have bookkeeper who tracks purchases, and use general good accounting practise (not enron's or arthur a's) and you cannot go wrong.
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Author Comment

by:cbgold
ID: 7066382
Our staff is using illegal copies to create the VB program (unfortunately), but the compiled program created by him has put on the network drive and currently used by many staff of our company!
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LVL 70

Expert Comment

by:Éric Moreau
ID: 7066509
You determine the licensing for the programs you are creating. There are aboslutely no problems in putting YOUR program on the network drive!
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Author Comment

by:cbgold
ID: 7068801
But the program he uses to create the VB program is illegal.  Is that no problem?
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LVL 70

Expert Comment

by:Éric Moreau
ID: 7068811
He is illegal for sure, but for the one who is using the .EXE, there is no way of knowing if the compiler was legal or not. It makes no differences for the user.
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Expert Comment

by:rrbf
ID: 7069194
It's always possible to make a software available
on the internet or and intranet, securely.
But keep control of who downloads it from where and when.
And also who uploads what were.
each new upload must not overwrite the previous,
this way you can track who did what in the log history.

Rather than deploying legal licensing which can be expensive, on our servers at www.rootroute.com. (in Chai
Wan, HK) we control who did what when.
File transmissions are all encrypted and is used to safely
transfer legal records etc.

Regards,
Boris

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Author Comment

by:cbgold
ID: 7069471
Dear emoreau:

In that case, if we purchase back the VB license later, can we escape from the legal challenge in case someone has discover the illegal creating program
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LVL 70

Expert Comment

by:Éric Moreau
ID: 7069472
Another newbie!!!

Please rrbf, take your time to read http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/cmtyQuestAnswer.jsp. You will find there the proper etiquette and discover that you should have posted a comment (instead of an answer).
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LVL 70

Expert Comment

by:Éric Moreau
ID: 7069474
>>can we escape from the legal challenge in case someone has discover the illegal creating program

They won't know that their application have been compiled with an illegal VB compiler unless you tell them.

I have never seen companies looking in the past to see if you were always legal. This is almost impossible to prove. Companies will look at the moment they audit you how many copies are installed and how many licenses you have.
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Expert Comment

by:rrbf
ID: 7069606
Probably my awnser wasn't any good.. but
I believe the etiquette is to let the originator of the questions
speak for himself, according to the etiquette link you mentioned.

Merci de votre attention et pour la perte de temps.

Since it's about the _type_ of program, ie a binary
that generates other executables, the concern is
that all generated exe files would be 'contaminated' from
the original illegal compiler.

Legal advice from a registered advisor is probably
more adequate than a bulettin board like here.
Purchasing a VB license not later, but the sooner is better.
You won't risk that much from the law, but more from
business discreditation if a competitor finds out.

After purchasing the VB license,
One way to clear the matter for good is to deliver a new version of the program, even if there's a few changes,
it will be legal as long as the name of the program is different,
Typically by increasing the version number.
For example if now it's called 'taglet generator 1.0' then you
can have a release 'taglet generator 1.1'
As long as some text or something is different in the new
version it's ok. it doesn't need to be a 'big' change.

Boris.
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Expert Comment

by:Éric Moreau
ID: 7128853
Any progress?
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Expert Comment

by:Éric Moreau
ID: 7297427
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Expert Comment

by:Netminder
ID: 7373266
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