The ITAM Review

News, reviews and resources for worldwide ITAM, SAM and Licensing professionals.

Beware Secondary Software FUD

SAM tool vendor Snow Software reports that Adobe has lost a case of reselling secondary software in the USA that has good implications for the US secondary software market.

See: Adobe loses courtroom battle.

It is great to see Snow Software (ITAM Review Tool Provider of the Year 2015 as voted for by customers) joining their ITAM industry peers such as Flexera Software in creating a useful blog with industry news and useful resources.

Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD)

However, I’m disappointed by the following statement from Snow Software on the secondary software market:


No they don’t – The European Court of Justice has declared it legal within certain conditions. The secondary market is in it’s infancy but it is legal and legitimate. See

Snow suggesting otherwise sounds like the usual scare tactics of software publishers.

Matt of Snow Software says: “Specialist second-hand software resellers can sometimes be difficult to differentiate from organizations offering outright illegal copies of software, making the concept of buyer-beware very relevant in this market place.”

This is false and seems to be copy and pasted from the Microsoft book of FUD. This is not helpful for organisations looking to make legitimate savings and explore secondary markets. It is these sorts of casual sleights that prevent real savings to be made by customers by taking advantage of secondary markets.

Classic Software Publisher FUD

Classic Software Publisher FUD

Snow Says: “PURCHASING LEGITIMATE LICENSES – It is important that all of your software licenses within your organization are legitimate copies.”

Blending a story about the secondary market with license legitimacy is another classic FUD tactic by software publishers. The secondary market is legitimate and provides a real opportunity for cost saving. Whose side are you on Snow?

Come on Snow, as an industry leader we expect more from you!

About Martin Thompson

Martin is owner and founder of The ITAM Review, an online resource for worldwide ITAM professionals. The ITAM Review is best known for its weekly newsletter of all the latest industry updates, LISA training platform, Excellence Awards and conferences in UK, USA and Australia.

Martin is also the founder of ITAM Forum, a not-for-profit trade body for the ITAM industry created to raise the profile of the profession and bring an organisational certification to market. On a voluntary basis Martin is a contributor to ISO WG21 which develops the ITAM International Standard ISO/IEC 19770.

He is also the author of the book "Practical ITAM - The essential guide for IT Asset Managers", a book that describes how to get started and make a difference in the field of IT Asset Management. In addition, Martin developed the PITAM training course and certification.

Prior to founding the ITAM Review in 2008 Martin worked for Centennial Software (Ivanti), Silicon Graphics, CA Technologies and Computer 2000 (Tech Data).

When not working, Martin likes to Ski, Hike, Motorbike and spend time with his young family.

Connect with Martin on LinkedIn.


  1. Danny Begg says:

    What are the questions that remain? If’s fine to say it and maybe there are questions that remain in peoples minds but that doesn’t mean that the answers are not already out there.

    The biggest blocker to organisations purchasing second hand software is actually their reluctance to do something new, the fear of having an audit, and the perception that they will damage their relationships with their vendors.

    These just take time and I don’t believe stops a company just makes the sales process and the savings benefit longer to realise (legal teams are always wary of anything new if it hasn’t been to court at least a thousand times)

    What is SNOW stance on the resale of their licenses, I don’t expect they would take umbrage?

  2. Are MR Martin and the SAMBeast on ill terms?

  3. Bjorn – No, not at all. David was a keen advocate of the Campaign for Clear Licensing (CCL) and being a voice for end users during his time at The ITAM Review and I don’t see that being any different at his exciting new role at Snow Software.

  4. Ian says:

    It’s not just about doing something new.

    Is it really so cheap? Reinstating support and maintenance will no doubt be prohibitively expensive or not possible.

    In the case of Adobe, perpetual licenses were dropped years ago. CS6 is now so old and not particularly useful or efficient for organisations that need creative software. Might be worth it for acrobat but there are cheaper alternatives out there if that’s all you need.

    So if an organisation wants to run out of date unsupported applications with no ability to upgrade then the second hand market is worth exploring. If that is the case, open source may be more a cost effective proposition.

  5. Matt’s comments about addressing license shortfalls with 2nd hand licenses in 2004 – 2008 makes sense, as the legitimacy of the 2nd hand market was only really validated in 2012 ( The 2nd hand licensing market is in it’s infancy, but with organisations adopting better SAM practices, surplus licenses are easier to identify, so are easier to make available for resale, so it is a market that will grow.

    The article further states that there needs to be a large success story for other to follow suit – trust me, there are large scale organisations using this channel to address their licensing needs, they just choose not to broadcast it.

  6. Kylie Fowler says:

    Debate is good, especially between friends.

    I agree Martin, was disappointed that Snow just parroted the vendor line like this.

    I rate Snows blogs for their thought leadership and ideas (it’s why I tweet about so many of them) but this one is definitely two steps behind the current reality.

    Many companies are taking advantage of second hand licenses, and not just to remediate issues at audit. I know at least on company that automatically buys its (older version) licenses from a second hand vendor, saving a LOT of money. Sure at some point they will have to upgrade, but they’re giving themselves options – and creating space for a little Google / Microsoft competitive tension when they do so.

  7. Matt Fisher says:

    Hi Martin – we certainly don’t like to disappoint those who take time to read the information and opinion we share, so perhaps a little further explanation is in order. The blog was written in response to the recent US ruling on the sale of Adobe software. I think we are all encouraged to see that Europe is a lot further ahead than other regions in terms of acknowledging and legitimising the second-hand software market. At the moment, however, there is little or no legal precedent for it in the United States or other regions such as the Middle East or APAC countries. Hence we do stand behind the ‘buyer beware’ statement.

    Our intention was simply to highlight both sides of a complex international situation.

    As our blog points out, had the case been heard in another US state, it is far from certain that the outcome would have been the same. Like the ITAM Review, we have a global audience, so we chose to focus on the story in hand rather than transpose it into the European market. Snow Software is all for any legitimate methods of saving money, optimizing software licenses and helping people adopt new theories and methods for reducing software spend. That’s clear in our mission statement: “…Snow Software provides Software Asset Management (SAM) solutions designed to ensure that the $320 billion spent every year on enterprise software is money well spent”.

    We fully support and understand how far the second-hand software market has come in the past few years and that it is now a legitimate method of purchasing software (see our 2016 predications blog) in Europe. We shall watch with interest if and when the US and other regions follow suit.

  8. Colin Simmons says:

    The second hand licence market, despite the ruling of the European Court of Justice, still has people in two minds. For older software where a customer has a licence shortage and no need for future upgrades then it might be tempting but to most companies who are investing in the future and want the ability to migrate to future versions there are no real benefits (as Ian says, the cost of re-instatement would be prohibitive). Either way, the company purchasing the second hand licences has to be confident that the seller is providing genuine licences (or their will be further problems should an audit arise). Then there are the vendors who say that you either have everything on maintenance or nothing – this would restrict many companies from using the second hand market. A question I have is has the introduction of subscription only licences in the past few years been solely about the vendors flattening out their income streams or was it associated with the vendors negating any longer term benefit from the second hand licence market?

  9. ian fischer says:

    On a related note, the Snow Software blog would benefit from a comments section so some of the articles in the blog can be discussed and points like this raised directly with the good people at Snow Software

Leave a Comment