Software As a Service – Legal Aspects

The SaaS model has become a key concept in today’s software deployment. It is already among the mainstream solutions on the IT market. But however easy and beneficial it may seem, there are many legal aspects one must be aware of, ranging from licenses and agreements up to data safety and information privacy.

Pay-As-You-Wish

Usually the problem starts already with the Licensing Agreement: Should the customer pay in advance or in arrears? What kind of license applies? The answers to these particular questions may vary from country to country, depending on legal practices. In the early days of SaaS, the vendors might choose between software licensing and service licensing. The second is more common now, as it can be combined with Try and Buy agreements and gives greater flexibility to the vendor. Moreover, licensing the product as a service in the USA provides great benefit to the customer as services are exempt from taxes.

The most important, however, is to choose between a term subscription and an on-demand license. The former requires paying monthly, annually, etc. regardless of the real needs and usage, whereas the latter means paying-as-you-go. It is worth noting, that the user pays not only for the software itself, but also for hosting, data security and storage. Given that the agreement mentions security data, any breach may result in the vendor being sued. The same applies to e.g. sloppy service or server downtimes. Therefore, the terms and conditions should be negotiated carefully.

Secure or not?

What the customers worry the most is data loss or security breaches. The provider should therefore remember to take necessary actions in order to prevent such a condition. They may also consider certifying particular services according to SAS 70 certification, which defines the professional standards used to assess the accuracy and security of a service. This audit statement is widely recognized in the USA. Inside the EU it is recommended to act according to the directive 2002/58/EC on privacy and electronic communications.

The directive claims the service provider responsible for taking “appropriate technical and organizational measures to safeguard security of its services” (Art. 4). It also follows the previous directive, which is the directive 95/46/EC on data protection. Any EU and US companies storing personal data can also opt into the Safe Harbor program to obtain the EU certification in accordance with the Data Protection Directive. Such companies or organizations must recertify every 12 months.

One must remember that all legal actions taken in case of a breach or any other security problem will depend on where the company and data centers are, where the customer is located, what kind of data they use, etc. Therefore it is advisable to consult a knowledgeable counsel on which law applies to a particular situation.

Beware of Cybercrime

The provider as well as the customer should nevertheless remember that no security is ironclad. It is therefore recommended that the providers limit their security obligation. Should a breach occur, the customer may sue the provider for misrepresentation. According to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, legal persons “can be held liable where the lack of supervision or control […] has made possible the commission of a criminal offence” (Art. 12). In the USA, 44 states imposed on both the vendors and the customers the obligation to notify the data subjects of any security breach. The decision on who is really responsible is made through a contract between the SaaS vendor and the customer. Again, careful negotiations are recommended.

SLA

Another issue is SLA (service level agreement). It is a crucial part of the agreement between the vendor and the customer. Obviously, the vendor may avoid making any commitments, but signing SLAs is a business decision required to compete on a high level. If the performance reports are available to the customers, it will surely make them feel secure and in control.

What types of SLAs are then required or advisable? Support and system availability (uptime) are a minimum; “five nines” is a most desired level, meaning only five minutes of downtime per year. However, many factors contribute to system reliability, which makes difficult estimating possible levels of accessibility or performance. Therefore, again, the provider should remember to give reasonable metrics, so as to avoid terminating the contract by the customer if any extended downtime occurs. Typically, the solution here is to give credits on future services instead of refunds, which prevents the customer from termination.

Further tips

-Always negotiate long-term payments in advance. Unconvinced customers can pay quarterly instead of annually.
-Never claim to have perfect security and service levels. Even major providers suffer from downtimes or breaches.
-Never agree on refunding services contracted prior to the termination. You do not want your company to go bankrupt because of one agreement or warranty breach.
-Never overlook the legal issues of SaaS – all in all, every provider should take more time to think over the agreement.

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The Legal Aspect of a Risk Profile and Response

With new and intense challenges seen in Corporate America, more and more companies are turning to the assistance of lawyers to create a risk profile and provide guidance on response. In fact, this issue has become so serious that in the past few years, governmental expectations for better governance have been strongly encouraged, specifically in the area of planning and delivery.

The development of a risk profile is one of the first steps a company should consider, examining both strategy and operational factors. Having a systematic plan in place for managing operational, strategic, and project risk is essential to the success of any business, regardless of size or industry. While using legal support for the creation of a risk profile offers a number of benefits, the primary objectives include achieving corporate objectives, enhancing performance, and reducing risk.

Although company executives could take a stab at creating a risk profile and appropriate response, a legal team can help by establishing definitive and precise action specific to the company and current laws. Federal, local and even industry regulations and laws change frequently making it difficult and cumbersome for a non-legal person to identify all the potential risks. A professional team will have the ability to take a high-level view of the company to identify potential problem areas that might not otherwise be considered.

Typically, if using outside counsel, the firm would start by working with internal personnel to gain a better understanding of the company, as well as its processes, technologies, and techniques. From there, a legal aspect would be considered to define a framework for a comprehensive, risk profile. The focus of the profile would depend on a number of things although areas such as risk management, finances, and legal are at the top of the list. Then, the company would need to have a dedicated team in place internally to implement and manage the risk profile and response.

You could think of a risk profile as a snapshot of the key areas and risks of an organization, coupled with broader areas such as business development, operations, and overall strategic goals. It is critical to understand not only the specific risk factors but the response associated with those risks and how they impact the organization. Using a legal team to help manage risk does not happen in a vacuum without the input of key stakeholders. The executive team and other stakeholders have a responsibility to ensure that the risk response is aligned with the overall objectives of the company. Legal must be kept apprised of the key business objectives to ensure that the risk profile and response reflect what is critical to the organization.

For instance, some companies will get themselves into trouble by missing time-sensitive responses and/or actions, which might include late delivery, tax penalties, going over budget, or a number of things pertaining to the business. Using a risk profile gives management a heads up on the most critical areas to watch for so nothing is missed. In addition, an attorney can assist management in response, teaching them and providing legal advice on the right way to respond should a problem or concern arise.

The legal team should have the capability of working with internal personnel to identify and successfully manage key risks, develop a solid risk profile, and integrate this profile with the overall business plan. Risk management requires comprehensive communication, internal support from the top down and a combined commitment to achieving results. In this way Legal truly becomes a key part of the overall support team that helps your business obtain the desired results.

Personal Debt Settlement – Four Ways For Testing a Debt Program’s Legitimacy

In my opinion, there is nothing difficult about differentiating legal companies from illegal ones if you have the basic knowledge about personal debt settlement. Some of the signs are very obvious and you can easily determine the legitimacy of a firm. Out of all the signs, four of them give a confirmation about the legal status of a company. These companies are very good at cheating and trapping the customer. Apparently, it seems that they are dealing in the highest rated service. They have a fake list of customers in which some of the most reputed names are mentioned. You need to check the originality. Here are four ways to accomplish this task easily.

Way1 (Does the company hold a valid registration status?)

Some of us do not realize the importance of a valid registration status. If a personal debt settlement company is not registered, there is no assurance about its legal status. You can get the registration details from TASC (The Association of Settlement Companies). Every legal company is registered with this association. In addition to that TASC (The Association of Settlement Companies) keeps a check on the performance of each firm. For instance, of you want to know about the success rate of a company, all you need to do is contact a TASC representative.

Way2 (Looking for free consultation services)

Is it necessary to pay a consultant for his services? The answer is no. You don’t have to pay anything for getting a professional advice. This point is also used to check whether a personal debt settlement company is legal or not. In the past, illegal companies have earned a lot by charging a heavy consultation fee from the customers. Before hiring a company, you should have a look at the price breakdown. If you are paying one hundred dollars to a personal debt settlement company, you should know the exact purpose of this amount. All the legal personal debt relief companies provide a valid breakdown to the customers. For instance, out of a total sum of hundred dollars, twenty dollars may be charged for documentation and paperwork

Way 3(Is the company charging anything before delivering the required performance?)

Do not pay anything in advance irrespective of the services offered by a particular personal debt settlement firm. These companies offer the most attractive deals at unbelievably low costs. Once you pay the first installment in advance, all the representatives and consultants vanish. Due to this severe problem, FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has been forced to change the regulations of liability relief.

Way 4(Is the personal debt settlement firm registered with a settlement network?)

Do not indulge in direct contact with a liability reduction company. This option is quite costly. In addition to that, it increases the chances of getting counterfeited by illegal firms. When a firm is employed by a liability elimination network, the management of the network assures the legal status of the company. Apart from that, relief networks have extremely low hiring charges.

Law & Legal – Personal Injury Settlements

The goal of personal injury settlements is to bring comfort to those who are victims because of the wrongdoing or negligence of someone else. Those who are personal injury victims get paid through settlements.

While settlements can’t help heal the damage done from injuries or psychological strain it caused the victim to endure, they are helpful in generating income that was lost as well as paying for medical expenses. Anyone who is injured in a collision should consult a reputable lawyer that can help find the best settlement possible.

If you are the victim, be careful not to take the first offer they give you. Many times, the person that caused the accident will try and pay you off quickly. If they don’t, their insurance company will, and they will not give you what is in your best interests.

It’s advisable that you not fall into that trap. The people guilty of committing the offense will try to hush up the matter with monetary settlements, so you should take the help of any experienced personal injury attorney to assess the extent of the damage.

If this was an auto accident, the opinion of doctors will need to be integrated into the framing of the settlement so they can determine what needs to be done to fix it.

Victims of car crashes aren’t always in the condition to be negotiating settlements with lawyers and insurance companies. This is where a personal injury attorney can step in and take care of the process while working with your best interests in mind.

The way the system basically works starts with the lawyer calculating the extent of the injuries in financial terms to cover medical expenses and income losses. After this is done, they work with the other person’s insurance company or attorney in figuring out an amount based on these findings.

Anyone who has been the victim of any kind personal injury or psychological damage needs to always contact a qualified and reputable lawyer in order to get a good and just settlement.