Business software usage guidlines issued

FAST corporate services is on a mission to ensure that the UK is "completely legal" when it comes to proprietary software licensing

FAST Corporate Services has released a standard it hopes will help UK businesses stop using illegal and unnecessary software.

Created in conjunction with the British Standards Institute, the document lists all the things businesses must do to become 'software compliant' and then offers guidance on how to achieve these goals.

Peter Kay, director of services at FAST, said: "What we're trying to do is put out a definitive standard so if you follow these steps, you will be compliant."

The organisation's mission is to make corporate UK "completely legal" in terms of software use, Kay said. Given the potential legal penalties for violating software copyrights or licences, Kay believes the standard will make it easier for British businesses "to get where they want to be".

According to research from FAST, over half of UK companies are vulnerable to legal action due to the use of unlicensed software. About a third of respondents said they had no way to control which applications are on their networks and nearly two-thirds do not lock down systems to prevent installation of unwanted software.

The standard provides advice on how to establish software usage policies for employees, carry out an audit of all systems, make sure you have rights to use all software and manage application usage on an on-going basis.

FAST points out that carrying out such an audit not only eliminates potential lawsuits and legal fees but also could cut costs by making sure businesses are not paying for unnecessary software licences. A third of UK companies do not monitor how often software on their networks is used, according to FAST.

The standard, called the FAST Standard for Software Compliance -- FSSC-1:2004, is available to all FAST members. Companies can sign up for membership on the organisation's Web site.

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