Are You Considering SAM (Software Asset Management)?
What is SAM?
Software Asset Management (SAM) describes the business practice of working to optimize the purchase of software licenses and minimize the risks of failing to comply with the licenses. SAM is growing in importance because businesses now have to determine how to obtain licenses for specific programs, operating systems, servers, and virtual servers and how to provide employees access to these software resources from a variety of devices.
What are the biggest benefits of SAM?
Strategic Use of Resources SAM can identify the number of software licenses needed, so that a business does not over (or under) purchase and is better able to take advantage of volume discounts. Implementing SAM may also help a business stabilize software spending and plan for future growth. Additionally, a business can benefit from keeping its software updated and functioning properly.
Limit Potential Liabilities
SAM can help ensure that software is used according to the terms of the license agreement. Failure to comply with a software license can result in:
- a compliance audit by the software publisher or the Business Software Alliance (BSA), a trade group that polices business software use; and/or
- legal action for breach of contract or copyright infringement.
In either scenario, the liability of the business can quickly become significant. The software license may provide for payment of the highest retail price for each unlicensed product plus interest. Under copyright law, statutory damages can range from $750 to $30,000 for each infringement, and can reach $150,000 if the infringement is willful. Copyright law also allows the copyright owner to seek recovery of its attorneys' fees.
How can a business begin SAM?
The first step is to perform an initial software/hardware inventory. Once a business understands the software/hardware inventory, it can begin to locate and track the documents necessary to evidence its software licenses. Attorneys with experience in software license compliance can help a business with its inventory process. Counsel can provide inventory worksheets and help the business identify the documents that evidence software licenses.