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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Training Software License Requirements

I received an email from a technical training manager that alerted me to an issue that they had recently run into:
I'm in charge of classroom training for five campuses throughout North America. Our customers use Crystal Reports in connection with our software.

It has been stated that Crystal Reports licensees may not train clients using Crystal Repots from Business Objects without an additional EULA for each and every customer receiving such training.
The issue from what I could read an interpret from various posts (statement, article) is that Business Objects requires Classroom Licensing for third party training organizations to teach using their software. They also are trying to put restrictions on any use of their software in training materials, public presentations, etc. The goal seems to be to: (a) get additional software license revenue and (b) limit "gray market" training and consulting - trainers and consultants who are not officially part of their programs. Note: they included not allowing non-certified training organizations to include screen shots in their training materials.

I'm actually not that familiar with the issues here and don't know how software companies generally handle this. I would certainly suspect that there are lots of software companies who would like to control this much like Business Objects. I've talked to a couple of friends at software development companies here in Southern California and they didn't have answers for me.

I'm curious - is this the norm? Is it okay for a software company to establish its policies and try to generate revenue by controlling who customers use for consulting and training? Where do you draw the line?


Paul said...

I honestly do not see how they could control that, and it seems to me to be a scare tactic. Can Business Objects seriously come in and demand that everyone purchase the software to use it?

I honestly have never had exposure to CR, so I can't speak from experience. But on the face of it their restrictions seem to border on the extreme. You can't even use screencaps?

This is where licenses get out of hand, because the software company wants to squeeze every last penny out.

Anonymous said...

I ran into an elearning software company last week that wants a percentage split plus additional, annual licensing fees for being a "learning service provider" (one who provides learning content to multiple clients).

Their product is really useful and powerful because of the ability to use Reusable Learning Objects.

So, if I reuse the RLO's for another client, AND if I don't necessarily create new content for this new client, they still want a percentage split for each new client. Their motto is create once, reuse many. What they failed to add is, "...and Pay over and over"

Another software company wanted a "per seat" license. Again, the content is reusable.

This to me is just insane. Their rational was I could hire a team to do the same work and it would cost more.

Thanks for bringing this up. This seems to me a serious issue of price gouging.

Anonymous said...

I create virtual machines each month for my company's training department. Basically, I have a Windows XP Pro installed in a virtual machine, and inside that instance of the OS I install a bunch of other apps needed for our trainers to go out to a customer site, install copy the virtual machine to each student's machine, and then install the free VMWare Player app to run them. Do we purchase licenses for each instance of Windows XP Pro that we deploy in a VM? No. It would cost thousands of dollars for a single class. I mentioned this to our IT department and they said don't worry about it. I wouldn't either.

...then again, to tell the truth, I'm really not very ethical I guess when it comes to software. How folks can afford to pay hundreds of dollars for MS Office, Adobe CS3, Flex, etc etc etc etc I don't know. I pirate most things, other than Windows itself (only cus it comes with my PC), Adobe CS3 (cus I have a legit license through work), and everything else is either free/open source or pirated. If the software companies didn't rape folks with prices, I'd change my position on it. But until they stop the raping, I'll continue the stealing. And I sleep fine at night.