In a recent UK case, the England and Wales High Court court ruled that the use of a vendor’s API to access and extract the customer’s own data constituted a use of, not just the API, but also the vendor’s underlying application. As a result, the customer is required to have a separate application license for each individual who is using the customer’s applications that access the customer’s own data via the vendor’s API.

London-based Diageo has been a SAP customer since 2004. Subsequently it built two Salesforce apps that pull data from it’s own mySAP Business Suite database, housed on premises. However, it’s not quite that simple. Diageo licensed and uses the SAP PI interface to generate simulated transactions for extracting their data. Diageo’s intention is clear: “We just want our own data,” but the method is convoluted–necessarily so, given SAP’s notoriously sophisticated underlying data structures.

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