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Purchasing software where the source code is being sold

Posted on 2013-06-20
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Last Modified: 2013-06-24
One of our consultants is recommended the potential purchase of software from a company that has reduced the price due to an upcoming close of their retail store and selling of the products source code.  We have an old version of this software (6 years old) so it would not be a blind purchase of software we have no experience with but my concern is regarding support.  If they are selling the source code do they sell off all rights and responsibilities for previous versions of the software they sold?  I am not familiar with the legalities but I would think that they would not tie up resources to a product they would no longer have legal rights to.  I am also not sure if any company purchasing the source code would be responsible for providing support for past purchase of the program, since they did not sell the product.

These are all questions that should be put forth and addressed or noted when considering the value of the purchase.  My supervisor is away on Paternity leave and I have limited experience in this regard.  I would appreciate any input from experts here as to how to advise with approaching this purchase.  Since support would ultimately fall upon myself and my supervisor, the possible lack of technical support from the manufacturer is a factor that I feel should be noted when they consider the purchase.

Thank you for any posts you can provide!
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Question by:HSI_guelph
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Expert Comment

by:jmcmunn
ID: 39262767
Well, obviously it is up to the original company that made the code/product but generally speaking most companies that are closing down their store will stop supporting whatever products they sold.

If you had an active license agreement for support, I imagine that would still hold valid that they should honor it, but it sounds like you have had it for a long time and therefore likely do not have an active contract.

As for the new company supporting you, unless they have an agreement with the original company I would say it is highly unlikely that you'll get support from them.  Unless you're paying them money for support, they really have no incentive to keep you happy and provide support.

If the source code is inexpensive, and you rely on this product being correct and up to date I think it might be wise to get it.  That's just from a developer's standpoint.  Too many times, I've been stuck using an old (unsupported) version of something where I find a bug that could be fixed if only I had the code.

Good luck!
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by:HSI_guelph
ID: 39271406
We don't have any tools to modify code, such as VS, so we probably wouldn't even attempt to alter code for any software we purchase.  So basically I think the software would be purchased 'as is'.  

Without lots of experience in purchasing software, I guess I have this feeling like they are clearing the selves (figuratively speaking) to try and pull in as money as they can.  It could be possible that no one buys the code and this would be the last version of the program ever?  Would this be a wise purchase?
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jmcmunn earned 500 total points
ID: 39271438
If you have no dev team, it would make it unlikely that the code would be mich good to you, however you could theoretically contract out bug fixes.  But, it seems like that is not your goal.

If you're looking to "future proof" your software, I would not recommend buying an upgrade at the last moment a company is in business.  I would find an alternative place to buy a different software package which would offer continued support down the road (including future upgrades).
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Author Closing Comment

by:HSI_guelph
ID: 39271901
I think the software is unique to its task so I'm not sure there are any alternates we could use.  So they have to way the usefulness of this software with its cost and the potential lack of support when deliberating this purchase.  Thanks for the input!
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