Licensing: a nightmare for customers only?

It’s been my pleasure today to be talking with Jeff Gordon who runs a Web site dedicated to helping organizations understand the licenses to the software that they use, and encouraging them to take a more pro-active stance in negotiating with their software suppliers.  I must be nuts to be publicising this, because the thought of every one of our customers demanding modifications to their licenses is scary (not to mention very expensive to resource). But on the other hand, there is a core concept of fairness and balance here, and in today’s market a vendor that doesn’t do all it can to understand and respect its customers’ interests is burying its head in the sand. Life would be a lot easier with a standard, universally adopted set of agreements to chose from.

Airlines have different pricing schemes depending on whether the ticket is cancellable, modifiable, etc. Maybe the software industry could offer a set of licensing options, priced accordingly, that included provisions for transferability etc. The whole SaaS thing is challenging conventional licensing anyway, so maybe the time is right for change.