Ask Sam – Are EULAs enforceable?

Ask-Sam- 8211 -Are-EULAs-enforceable
Dear Sam, The previous team that was managing licenses for my company was just let go. I’ve been put in charge of the new team and my first action was to remove general access to the corporate shared disk location everyone was using to install software. I did this because the CFO of the company told me to lock down the ability for anyone to install software without being able to track and approve each and every installation.Now, I’m getting e-mails from people in the organization telling me that installing software like they used to is OK because EULA licenses are not enforceable. I know our volume licenses have some very specific requirements on how many installations we can have as a company and these are enforced, but I don’t know anything about software that is bought off the shelf.

Is it true that EULAs aren’t enforceable and that we can install as many copies as we want?

Regards,

Confused about Retail

Ask Sam Dear Confused about Retail,

Great question.

It sounds like you know the answer to the question, but need some ammunition on educating your fellow employees.

The short answer is that EULA’s are enforceable. Software regularly provides the user with a click-through license agreement prior to the actual process used to install the software. Some software installations require one click to accept – others require two clicks. In the US, courts have validated the click-through license agreements (for more, read ProCD v. Zeidenberg and Microsoft v Harmony Computers).

Your CFO understands the risks by wanting to lock down users from installing their software. The CFO knows that a company is liable for the actions of its employees – and those same employees may be violating the terms of their employment agreement with their organization.

Listen to your CFO and get his or her help to promote the education of your employees on the company’s software policy – including the ramifications for violating company policy. If you need a software policy, please let me know.

P.S. –Your question also said that employees of your organizations have been provided with the ability to install their software from the shared disk. If so, you may want to run a tool like AppClarity to discover software installed, and learn what is unused (which can be re-provisioned for those who need the software). You may also want to consider a corporate app store like 1E Shopping. Shopping provides a very easy way for users to request the software they need installed. It also ensures that the software is in-line with company policy and enables a very easy approval work-flow. Both of these technologies will go a long way in reducing risk from non-compliance and increasing overall IT efficiencies allowing the organization to acquire only the software which is necessary to support the needs of the business.

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