Get in touch
27th March, 2020
On 16 March 2020, the Government advised all those who can work from home, to do so. Responsible employers are following the guidelines wherever feasible and schools and universities, which have also been closed, have moved lectures and classes online. This solves the problem created by social distancing measures, but creates a new expensive one. To work remotely you need the required software and this comes at a cost.
As the legal representative of several large software providers, we know how important it is that all software used by a business or organisation is properly licenced. Using unlicensed software, even for a short period, can open an organisation or individual up to injunctive proceedings and a claim for damages by the software provider. Although some cloud based software is offered on flexible licences, including monthly subscriptions, other licenses are licensed fee for a longer fixed period, often 12 months, or for the lifespan of the hardware it is installed on, if pre-installed when the hardware is bought, such as notebook or paint 3D. But what is the situation if software which is usually licensed for 12 months or longer is only needed for a few months during unprecedented times? It’s important that all software is paid for by those wishing to use it in normal circumstances, but companies which are already struggling in this challenging financial crisis may struggle to bear the costs of these additional licences, which they would not normally have purchased, especially for a period longer than required. Government grants is one option to remove this burden but this has not been offered.
It’s not only the remote access software that has suddenly become a necessity, security software is also essential. The news is full of reports of hackers and scammers taking advantage of the crisis and the extension of remote working to try and line their pockets.
In addition, the dreaded Data Protection Act and GDPR still hover menacingly over us; the strict obligations placed on us by that legislation remaining fully in force. This is a double blow to the pockets of businesses and organisations needing to implement remote working. Hardware shortages such as laptops can be worked around by asking employees and students to use their own, but this brings with it huge risks in relation to data protection and computer-virus/malware attacks, making it imperative on all businesses to ensure that security software is installed on all remote machines used for its business, regardless of who owns it.
In times such as this, all organisations – big and small, and individuals, have a part to play in fighting the spread of the virus and keeping the world economy running as much as feasibly possible. It will not be easy and some will be hit more than others, in particular, those in the gig-economy and the self-employed. Everyone will suffer some form of loss, emotional and financial. So should it fall on those with the largest reserves to sacrifice more, in order to help those in less secure positions lose less? Many would suggest the answer to this question is yes!
In theory, large businesses with services that are in demand, such as toilet roll manufacturers, could make large profits through this crisis. However, businesses will be relieved to know that the large technology companies such as Microsoft, McAfee and Adobe are not amongst them. Instead of insisting that all of these additional licences are paid at full cost, these large corporations have stepped up to the mark and are offering free software to enable all who need it, be it businesses, educational facilities and community projects, free access to their remote software.
Microsoft is offering its Team ® software to any business or educational institution or charitable organisation free of charge and the information required to access this software can be found through this link.
The reason behind Microsoft’s generosity arises from their own colleagues experiences in China, the first country to go into lockdown. A letter by their Chinese employee, Lily Zheng, clearly set out the need for such open access and useful tips on how to survive long-term remote working. Her letter to Microsoft users can be found here.
Adobe are offering the following services:
• Students have free, personal in-home access to Adobe Creative Cloud in place of their schools’ in-classroom licenses through May 31, 2020.
• Their web-based PDF services on Adobe.com free through May 31, 2020.
• They are extending their Creative Cloud and Document Cloud team and enterprise customers in their Value Incentive Plan (VIP) grace period to 60 days.
• For Creative Cloud and Document Cloud Enterprise Term License Agreement (ETLA) customers, they will eliminate additional license charges for 60 days.
The following link provides a statement from Adobe’s CEO, Shantanu Narayen, of the full details of what Adobe is offering to businesses and the community at large, including the donations the company is making to charitable entities fighting the pandemic.
McAfee, one of the leading security software providers, are offering free licence extensions to their existing customers. Information regarding this offer can be found in a post by Anand Ramanathan of McAfee, which can be accessed here.
It’s reassuring to know, that in times of crisis, even the largest corporations rank their social responsibilities above the profits of their shareholders. So, whether you are a large business or organisation, or a small one, if you wish to enable your employees, students or volunteers to work from home, take advantage of the assistance being offered. A quick visit to the website of your software provider using ‘Covid-19’ as a term in their search facility will take you to the pages of what that particular company may have to offer.
The information on this site about legal matters is provided as a general guide only. Although we try to ensure that all of the information on this site is accurate and up to date, this cannot be guaranteed. The information on this site should not be relied upon or construed as constituting legal advice and Howes Percival LLP disclaims liability in relation to its use. You should seek appropriate legal advice before taking or refraining from taking any action.