Software Licensing for a FHC
Executive Summary: I’m trying to determine what free software can be installed on a FHC’s PCs. I explain why I care, and present criteria to use to make the decision. I apply the proposed criteria to several programs. I’m seeking input so that I can satisfy a stake audit.
For many years the approximately 11 PCs in our FHC have all had a suite of “free utilities” selected by our tech support staff member, who has served in this position for at least a decade, far longer than the TFHC-FHC leaders for the center. He was in failing health for our 2-year tenure, and he died in January. I now maintain the computers.
Responding to the current routine stake audit on behalf of the FHC, I needed to answer question 25 on software licensing:
“25. Is all software on the FHC’s computers authorized by the church and properly licensed? (I added the letters A, B, and C to the audit detail criteria for reference.)
- A. “There should not be any software on FHC computers that is not authorized by the FH Department.
- B. “There should not be any software on FHC computers that is licensed to an individual.
- C. “All software must be licensed to the church, the family history center, or the Family History Department. “
How about our “free utilities”? Has the FH Department authorized them as required by criteria A?
- On page 28 of “Family History Center Operations Guide: United States and Canada (June 2015)” it says “You may install other software products helpful for family history research. If there is a cost, it must come from your operating budget.”
I interpret this to mean that the FHC leader is authorized to install any software, free or paid, provided by the church or otherwise, which is useful for FH research.
Free utilities, useful for FH research, are therefore authorized by the Family History Department. So far, so good.
Statements B and C address licensing of our “free utilities”. I summarize them as follows:
- All software must be properly licensed. If not supplied by the church or the FH Department, then it must be licensed to the FHC.
Are our “free utilities” properly licensed? To acquire a license for software for the FHC, we must meet the software’s licensing criteria.
Some “free utilities” are free for all uses, and some are free only for certain classes of people or organizations. For example, a software developer may say that personal home use is free and all other uses must pay for a commercial license. For software with only these 2 licensing classes, the advice given in this FHC Tech community that a FHC requires a commercial license would be correct.
However, in checking our suite of “free utilities,” some have different licensing classes than these. I have found mention of personal, library, educational, nonprofit, and commercial license classes. Developers provide lower-cost licensing for users whom they choose to favor. Presumably, a user should claim the licensing requirements which result in the lowest cost for their use.
So what kind of an organization is a FHC? What license classes can we claim?
- A FHC can’t claim to be in the personal or home class
- FamilySearch states that it is a nonprofit. From https://www.familysearch.org/records/archives/web/about “FamilySearch International is a nonprofit family history organization …”
- Remembering questions about the FHC from the stake audit, I had to certify that we took in no money other than to cover the expenses of physical materials we supply, such as copies and handouts. So the FHC is not making any profit on anything. Our staff is also unpaid. Sounds nonprofit.
- Since a FHC is part of FamilySearch, and makes no profits, it is a nonprofit organization
- Our FHC wiki web page https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/San_Jose_California_Family_History_Center, in the FS-supplied header information, says about our FHC: “This article describes the services and resources available at a Family History Center, a branch facility of the Family History Library.”
- Since a FHC is a branch facility of the Family History Library, it is a library
I conclude that for a given piece of software, a FHC could therefore be properly licensed as any of the following: a library, a nonprofit, or a commercial entity.
Real live software examples:
- “FreeFileSync may be used in business, commercial, and government environments without cost.”
FreeFileSync is free to all classes of users, so a FHC can install and use it on its PCs as licensed software without cost.
- “IrfanView is provided as freeware, but only for private, non-commercial use (that means at home).
- “IrfanView is free for educational use (schools, universities, museums and libraries) and for use in charity or humanitarian organisations.
- “If you intend to use IrfanView at your place of business or for commercial purposes, please register and purchase it.”
(I also think I remember seeing IrfanView on PCs in the Church History Library and the Family History Library, but I may be mistaken.)
A FHC is not “at home,” but we are a library, so IrfanView can be licensed on our PCs without cost. We need not pay for a commercial license.
I have concluded that I definitely must remove these packages because we would be subject to commercial licenses: Bulk Rename, CCleaner, EditPadLite7.
Those were pretty easy.
Here are software packages which I am not sure can be used with the free license on a FHC PC. I need to fix the FHC PCs by Friday so we can be cleared on the audit. Can anyone help with these?
FSCapture 5.3. “FastStone Capture is provided as FREEWARE for private (non-commercial) or educational (including non-profit organization) use.” There is a newer paid version. I’m judging that by FSearch’s nonprofit status that we get the free version.
Family Archive Viewer.
Flip-Pal Easy Stitch.
Spybot Search and Destroy.
Your assumptions seem very correct. You need the approval of your Stake President that your conclusions are the same as his, at that point, you may proceed. I would also suggest you get the approval of your stake audit committee.
Also, you need to verify that the apps are ONLY used for the intended use and NOT by others who just don't want to have the programs on their computers.
Spybot Search and Destroy should be removed as we provide our own malware protection which Spybot Search and Destroy does interfere with and the use of 3rd party malware software is NOT approve for FHC Computers.
A reminder the saving of any Data on an FHC Computer is not approved.0
One of the responsibilities of the STS is to make sure that Software on the FHC Computers is legal. approved and is being used properly.0
Just my two cents here and I don't know Brother Lindsay's calling but from my perspective as an STS, I would want to know what software is on the computers in my stake. By the way, I happen to like Irfanview quite a lot and use it almost daily.
I use FlipPal stitching software a great deal, but it's on my FlipPal hand scanner flash drive. The only time I use it is when I've scanned an item that was too large for one scan. Several scans of the item, resulting in numerous images, can be stitched back together. That software came with the purchase of my FlipPal and I assume it's used ONLY with the purchase of that scanner. I can't imagine why anyone would load it on a PC.0
Dean T. Lindsay,
I agree with previous comments, just wanna add that we used IrfanView in the training zone on two full-time family history missions and encouraged others to use it also. Your questions were well detailed and very informative for those of us with smaller, more remote FHCs where the appearance of an auditor or even of a tech would truly be an event.
Thanks for everyone's comments. You all seemed to express the feeling that I was on the right track. Following the process I posted, I studied the licensing language for the "free utilities" on our Windows 10 PCs. I found 3 utilities which would need to be licensed under a paid commercial license and removed them.
I then sent an email to the audit committee, ccing my stake president, stating that we were now in compliance with the FHC software audit question. I included in that email, in a details section, essentially the reasoning from my original post here. I received positive responses from both of them.
So, YMMV, but at least for my case, I seem to have found a way to classify software for our FHC computers that makes sense to both me and my priesthood leader.0
I'm a new family history center director, Dean. I'm impressed by your knowledge about software licensing on FHC PCs. Do you think MS Access RunTime software qualifies as a "free utility"? My initial thought is "no way".
Hi Jerry. Actually, it is free :-).
From Wikipedia: "Microsoft Access Runtime: Microsoft offers free runtime versions of Microsoft Access which allow users to run an Access desktop application without needing to purchase or install a retail version of Microsoft Access. This actually allows Access developers to create databases that can be freely distributed to an unlimited number of end-users. These runtime versions of Access 2007 and later can be downloaded for free from Microsoft. The runtime version allows users to view, edit and delete data, along with running queries, forms, reports, macros and VBA module code. The runtime version does not allow users to change the design of Microsoft Access tables, queries, forms, reports, macros or module code."
MS Access is a database application. So someone making a Family History database of some kind might send to the user the database and the MS Access Runtime to access the data in the database. So there might be some database that someone installed at some time on the computer. Maybe it was used to track microfilms in your FHC at some time in the past?
My approach to applications I find on the FHC computers is to be careful about what I change until I understand what the previous FHC computer tech did and how he did it. I want things which used to work to continue to work until I figure things out. Then when I find something that shouldn't be there, I learn how to remove it without disturbing the remainder of the environment. You might look around on that PC to see if there is a desktop icon for a database, or a database file somewhere. If it's the inventory of films at your center, for example, and you still have them, you might want to keep it operational as long as you have the films to track.0