I took an interview as IT Manager last week and was offered the job.


However during the 1st stage interview someone slipped in the fact that a GOOD proportion of the software on-site is probably unlicensed.

Obviously in my initial induction and investigations I will try to find out exactly what is what etc.

So my question is, as the new IT manager, would I have to accept any blame should there be some sort of audit etc? Particularly if I highlight the issue to the management (which they probably already know)?

And would they be able to "let me go" just for telling them that they knowingly have unlicensed software?

(UK based)

  • A good thread!! - However its a bit different, as that one basically says to pass it up to the IT dept - but in my cast..... I AM the IT dept!!!! (will be) Mar 1, 2017 at 22:29
  • This question is much better worded than the one you deleted. Nicely done.
    – Neo
    Mar 2, 2017 at 0:27
  • Either change it for Linux or do not accept the job. I am bring ironic btw. Or think other way, why did the previous guy left? Mar 2, 2017 at 4:54
  • 1
    This seems like an obvious legal question. I doubt even Law would be willing to predict the potential fallout you could face, even with a lot more detail.
    – Lilienthal
    Mar 2, 2017 at 10:08

3 Answers 3


I think this may still be the case in the UK, and is true in other jurisdictions - the nominated IT manager in an organisation is the fall guy for licence violations (the CEO, MD or whatever, are deemed "not qualified" - a CIO or CTO, on the other hand, would be) and other things like improper or illegal use of IT resources.

If you're aware of infringement and don't do anything about it, you can be thrown under the bus. Worst case - you become liable for the penalties.

That may seem hard - but there is a get-out clause: by being pro-active and alerting your C-level management to the issue, clearly stating what the infringements are and what the outcomes of non-compliance would be (and maintain copies of all communications), then you have some cover. Unfortunately, you may still be thrown under the bus, but you should be able to drag someone else with you to take the brunt. Worst case - you lose your job.

If you alert the company management and they don't do anything - get the hell out of there!

  • Agree, but if they don't do anything he is stuck.
    – Neo
    Mar 2, 2017 at 0:28
  • Do you have the experience or sources to back up these claims?
    – Lilienthal
    Mar 2, 2017 at 10:02
  • @Lilienthal No sources, sorry. However, this was true in the UK back about 10-15 years ago when I last worked there. I've tried searching for some references, but probably need a lawyer to parse through the results and get to the meat of it
    – HorusKol
    Mar 2, 2017 at 11:28

This might be something you'd want to discuss during a 2nd interview. I know I would.

Even if you decide that you don't formally have to accept the blame, wouldn't you want to know the kind of budget pressure you'll be under such that you might be forced to continue using unlicensed software?

And one line of thought is that if they are willing to "cut corners" regarding the legality of the software they are using, where else might they follow less-than-ethical standards?

Discussing the situation might help you decide if this is the kind of company you would want to work for.


Your first role as an IT Manager should be to find out what software and hardware you have in the company. The easiest way to do this is by auditing - a good audit software will install silently, and tell you everything you need to know. You can then come up with a set of proposals to make the company legal - purchase some licences, remove some software, etc.

You should then document this proposal and keep a personal copy it with some method to date it, just be careful not to breach any data-copying restrictions in place by your organization.

  • 1
    I've taken the liberty of suggesting an edit with to recommend documenting the proposal for any (admittedly small) protection it might offer.
    – user30031
    Mar 1, 2017 at 22:57

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