A EULA or ‘End User License Agreement’ serves to summarize the general terms and conditions related to using a piece of software. Sometimes using software simply involves creating an account and then the licensing piece is invisible to the end-user. Other times individual users or businesses need to track or report their licenses. While software licensing can be made easier by being a part of a cloud, it may also make it easier to skirt the terms and conditions of the EULA leaving the end-user liable later.
Many cloud hosting providers work directly with various software vendors to license software based on consumption. This has the potential to make it easier for both the cloud provider and the end-user/customer to abide by the terms of the EULA. However, that is not always the case. In accounting firms, we continue to see the most license infringement around Adobe and Intuit software products.
Adobe Acrobat is a staple in the accounting firm world. Everyone uses it, and, in many cases, individuals have no real clue how their license was acquired or where it came from. A local IT company or hosting provider just makes it available to use, no questions asked. Well, that’s not how Adobe works. As the EULA implies, it is on the end-user or the company to ensure that the software is properly licensed.
Frequently, when speaking with firms who want to come into our cloud, we find that they have been using the software illegally, in some cases for years. This is very often the case when firms come over from another cloud hosting provider. Oftentimes firms say, “Our hosting provider provided us licenses for around $5/month or it was included in the fees.” While that likely sounded like a great deal initially, it is too good to be true. Adobe Professional costs approximately $400 per license or $15 per month if you do the subscription plan. So how can that provider do it for $5 or free? What’s more concerning is that a hosting provider cannot technically provide a license to their customers. The end-user/company must have a direct relationship with Adobe.
Despite this accounting application’s dominance and ubiquity, it has a very strict licensing agreement. Did you know the QuickBooks license is a ‘named user license’? This means that if ‘Sarah’ or ‘Bob’ use the application for the first time on Monday and then leave the company later that week, the license they used to log in has been consumed, and now a firm must go through a transfer of license process. Many may think, “I have ten CPAs, but only five use the program regularly…I think we are fine to buy five.” Later in the year when those other five people open a QB file to look at their client’s work, they are in direct infringement of the licensing agreement. We don’t make the rules, but we hold people to them as should your IT team (whether your IT team be employees, a local IT provider, or your cloud hosting provider). At the end of the day, it’s the firm and not the IT people who will suffer the ultimate price.
These are just two pieces of software you need to consider when it comes to licensing management. The agreements that allow you to use your software are nuanced – you are on the hook for understanding those nuances and for making the appropriate adjustments.