Please vote in our Unfair Licensing Policies survey

As promised in a previous blog post: Which Software Licensing Policy Is The Unfairest Of Them All? , we've launched a survey to find out what sourcing and vendor management professionals think about some common software licensing policies.  This isn't about bashing powerful software companies, but about building a consensus behind a campaign to bring software licensing rules up to date - i.e. protection of innocent buyers, rather than regime change.  I've narrowed an initial list of 30 questionable policies down to this Foul Fifteen of candidates for the (un)coveted "Unfairest" award:

1.       Double charging for external users

2.       Prohibiting or overcharging for anonymous users

3.       Maintenance on shelfware

4.       Counting cores instead of processors

5.       Counting all processors in a server, even if partitioned

6.       Upfront license purchase only, not phased in line with project milestones

7.       Maintenance repricing

8.       Insisting on purchase of all licenses before implementation starts

9.       Product enhancements packaged as new SKU’s

10.   Licensing by deployment, even if unused

11.   Charging for use of modules that customers cannot control or track

12.   Retaining right to change licensing policies at any time

13.   Multiplexing – definition is unclear or too wide

14.   Pricing and contract terms are confidential

15.   Charging for bug fixes

Here's a link to our survey, which includes more detail on the candidate policies:

Please help us, by giving us your votes on each of the items in our list. Which ones do you really resent, and which ones can you, reluctantly, accept? Which are the top 5 that we should work hardest to improve? The more responses we get, the more powerful will be the message we can send to the software providers. We're asking for you to leave us some contact details, but only so that we can verify that all the responses are genuine, from real IT sourcing professionals. Unfortunately, we'll have to ignore votes from made up names with invalid email addresses, to avoid devaluing the results. We look forward to getting your opinions.



Licensing policies

As a supplier of license management technology to software companies we tend to see the more cutting-edge licensing policies, rather than these ham-handed examples in your list.

In the Trends report you just published you note a number of problems with traditional license models, including paying for shelfware, being inimical to virtualization, problems with multi-core systems and so on. One model we are seeing more widely is usage-based licensing, which avoids all these issues. We published a case study of how FICO are offering this model for their risk analysis tools here:

I thought you might find it of interest.

Dominic Haigh
Agilis Software

Usage-based pricing has its own disadvantages

i'd agree with you Dominic that a usage-based model could avoid most of the issues Ive listed, although I disagree that it fixes all of them. For instance, usage or 'utility' pricing of cloud infrastructure still relies on measuring the processing power needed to process the workload, rather than the workload itself. Its rather like charging for electricity based on the tonnes of coal consumed in its generation.

Also, usage-based pricing can have some other drawbacks. For instance, if you measure usage in terms of log in duration you might create a disincentive to use your product, so people find workarounds rather than incur a charge.

I think you can eliminate these unfair policies without throwing away the tried and tested perpetual license model.