The Case for a Code of Conduct for Software License Auditors

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[co-authors: Andy Jackson and Gareth Coffey]

Almost all software licenses include a provision for the audit of a customer by the vendor to check whether usage is in compliance with the rights acquired. Globally, there are thousands of such audits every year, conducted by vendors and by third parties on their behalf and billions of dollars change hands as a result.

Customers dislike the audit process because it is intrusive, time-consuming and often results in difficult contractual and commercial discussions around the need for additional licences. Many in the vendors also dislike audits for similar reasons and because they fear that audits damage the vendors’ relationships with their customers. Not all vendors carry out audits for these reasons. However, most audits result in incremental revenues for those vendors that do them and these revenues can be significant in terms of overall vendor profitability...

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