Apr 30, 2009

SDL Trados freelance license issue to be resolved?

This morning I got a message from Nick at SDL regarding Trados licensing. Not Old Nick as one might expect, but Nick Edwards, the product manager responsible for SDL Trados Studio and the upcoming release. He noted that the misunderstanding regarding prices for upgrades (or prices for new Freelance licenses for that matter) has been resolved but that questions regarding the use of multiple freelance licenses on a network remained. Well, for the current version of Trados, there is no question - the answer is clear: you can't do it! I was, however, curious whether this particular injustice would persist. He asked specifically
"...can [you] tell me about how your team are setup such as the size of the team, what sort of network are you on (Workgroup? Domain based?)?"
To which I responded in my usual verbose way:
Thanks for the response. You ought to be familiar with this issue by now; it's been an albatross around the neck of Trados freelance users for years. I bought my original Trados license back in version 3 days (about 8 or 9 years ago I think it was), not because I intended to use the product, which I found to be too buggy, but more as a "thank you" for all the business I got from referrals through the translationzone.com site. I did the real work in Déjà Vu 3 in those days. It wasn't until v5 of Trados was released that I felt the product was stable enough for my purposes and I began to use it regularly for Siemens projects involving Teamworks and other cases. I also do a lot of complementary workflows for projects where neither Trados nor Déjà Vu alone would do the job, and a combination of tools is required. At some point I bought an SDLX license, because my ex-wife was using the product and was very happy with it, but I never got the hang of that format painting nonsense and the license was soon ignored. Some time later I was joined by my current partner, and we needed an extra Trados license for our work. This was shortly after the merger with SDL, and at the time we were getting spammed constantly with upgrade offers for the SDLX license to get a Trados license out of it. A good deal it seemed, so we bought the upgrade. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the two licenses could not operate at the same time on the LAN in our apartment. I went ballistic and posted a note on ProZ with a title something like "Trados Licensing is Evil", where I discovered that this was a known problem. The same evening I got a call from Mike Kidd, who was still with the company at that time, and he explained the rationale behind the restriction and admitted that it was a bit unfair for situations like ours. Moreover, the fact that I was constantly pestered to upgrade to a license I could not use infuriated me no end. Mike kindly arranged to have a modified Workbench.exe file sent the following week, which allows us to operate multiple Trados licenses on our network. That's one reason I never upgraded the second license I own past Trados 2006: I would lose the ability to use both licenses concurrently.

We are not an LSP. We are a partnership of two translators working on a small home network. Occasionally a colleague with Trados will visit us and stay for a few days or a week and need to use his/her license too. The concerns of the company about corporate users trying to save a few euros do not apply here in any way whatsoever. We have our network configured so that we are all part of the same workgroup and use a DSL modem and router for our Internet connection. None of the domains we own are hosted in-house.

If this licensing issue for freelancers has already been resolved in the new Trados 2009 version, that is news that will be greatly welcomed by the user community, including yours truly. Though I use other tools for most of my work, there are still particular tasks where SDL Trados products play an important role, and if it were not for the insulting, condescending approach that the company often takes to marketing (the "amnesty" campaign was not well received generally, and it was one of the better ones I've seen), I could probably overlook the bad support and not find much to complain about if TagEditor stops crashing when I try to re-export complex Word documents :-) But seriously, what I've seen in the beta of the new software looks rather good on the whole, and I welcome the move toward better standards compliance. If SDL does something about this stupid licensing issue that makes the company appear unreasonable and greedy, a lot of goodwill will be gained among your users.
The response to this included the following statement, which appears to be quite good news for small offices like ours that would like to use multiple Trados freelance licenses on the same network:
I am happy to be able to tell you that with SDL Trados Studio 2009 we have come up with a solution which allows use of multiple freelance licenses on a workgroup based network but will prevent freelance licenses from working on a domain based network. I believe this should solve the issue you and others in a similar situation are having.
Well, if that is true, then hats off to SDL for doing the right thing at last. (Those who are a bit hazy on the differences between a workgroup-based network and a domain-based one can find an explanation here.) This licensing issue has been a problem for many people for a long time, and the response to the problem for most users has been completely inadequate up to now.

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