Launching a Successful Business

Should You Allow License Borrowing?

License borrowing allows users in a network to effectively gain a software license for a limited time. The license is returned at the end of the time period, similar to how you'd check out and then return a library book. Borrowing is very helpful for people who might not use the software regularly, so they'd rather not drop hundreds on a full license. The question you, as a software engineering company, need to ask yourselves is if you're going to allow borrowing for the software you sell. While this might seem like an easy way to kill any profits, it has benefits that more than make up for the reduction in license purchases.

A Must for Academic Software

The best example of an environment in which license borrowing would be a very good feature to add is the academic setting. Universities and large research institutions often purchase specific academic licenses that give them a bit of a discount over regular personal-use licenses. However, these licenses can still eat into a department's budget. Despite large financial endowments, many academic departments don't have a lot of cash to purchase licenses for all their staff and students.

Group licenses alleviate this somewhat for departments where lots of people will use the software regularly. However, for people who do not normally need to use it, their department might not have a group license nor the cash to grab its own license. Borrowing allows researchers to access the software legally without creating a financial problem. The same could be said for corporate settings where different divisions have differing software access needs. If you need to deal with software licensing in the corporate setting, be sure to contact a business attorney to help you sort out contractual obligations between you and the borrowers.

Choosing an Access Type

Once you've decided to allow borrowing when you make your software licenses available, you have to choose the type of access you'll allow. One form is a very open type that allows people to connect to the main organization's network and access the software there. The other type actually provides a temporary copy that the user can access offline. In both cases, the access is time-limited, so the choice really comes down to whether or not you want someone to have a copy offsite. If you want, you can set the license so that no one can access the software, even by logging into the network, from a computer that is physically outside the regular organization (e.g. someone can log into the network from an on-campus office, but not from a remote connection at home).

License borrowing is rather easy to set up, and if possible, it's advisable to allow it. Borrowing makes the use of the software much more flexible and may give you a leg up over competitors who do not allow borrowing.