Texas Wesleyan Law Review

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Software licensing options for large enterprises are evolving almost as quickly as the mission-critical software solutions those companies deploy. In the past, most software licensing metrics were based on the software installation itself. Increasingly, software publishers are offer- ing more licensing options and flexibility to meet their customers' software needs; however, that increased flexibility often results in complex software asset management ("SAM") risks and obligations. Licensing models that once would have required custom agreements with unique protocols, if technologically feasible in the first place, now are offered alongside the "traditional" licenses in increasingly dense menus of choices for IT teams to weigh. Businesses must equip themselves to recognize the unique challenges that accompany various options in order to avoid unnecessary licensing exposure. The options available depend in large measure on the types of computers on which the software will reside. For workstations, many businesses that once relied on a one-license-per-installation model now are migrating to server-based installations accessed from terminals lacking hard drives (e.g., "thin-client" architectures) and to hosted software delivered through the cloud; each of these models presents unique infrastructure and licensing challenges. Server-based licensing options are complex, with many companies facing the prospect of having to determine license requirements using intricate calculations that depend on the processing capacity of the computer or on some other metric associated with a particular software product. Unsurprisingly, many companies are finding unique solutions to those challengesincluding the formation of "captive IT services providers"-but many of those solutions present their own sets of challenges and risks.



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