Manage your software!

by Regina Lau
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The University has stepped up measures to promote staff awareness of copyright liability concerning computer software. From September 2002 to March 2003, all academic and administrative units are required to conduct a software asset self-assessment exercise to identify actual software that is used on each personal computer and its licensing status. Moreover, as a University policy, individual units are required to purchase any new software through the centralized i-Procurement system.

"We want staff members to go through the i-Procurement system, so that we can capture the purchase records and the software inventory will be updated automatically," said the Chief Information Officer, Dr Jerry Yu. "The initial assessment exercise will make the University aware of the software needs and problems of individual departments," he explained. "But if departments are using unlicensed software, we will have to ask them to erase such software, or to purchase proper licenses."

The Intellectual Property Ordinance introduced in April 2001 stipulated that it is a criminal offence to use pirated copies of computer software in trade or business. The Information Technology Services Department of the HKSAR then laid down a set of guidelines on software asset management in an organization, which the University Grants Committee requires all tertiary institutions to observe.

Software asset management will be an ongoing process to ensure compliance with the Intellectual Property Ordinance. All departments will be required to go through the software asset assessment at least once a year; and the assessment reports will be audited by the Internal Audit Unit.

Meanwhile, the Enterprise Solution Unit is also drafting a Policy on Compliance of Intellectual Property Ordinance, to be incorporated later in both staff and student handbooks, to reinforce the requirement that all University members must observe the copyright law in their day-to-day operation.

"We don't want to be intrusive, but we are obliged to observe the copyright law. We also want to remind department heads that it is their responsibility to manage software assets in their offices," Dr Yu explained.