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The Crystal Reports Broadcast License (CRBL)

In the fall of 2002 I had a conference call with several Crystal Reports product managers to discuss the Crystal Reports v9 Broadcast License (CRBL).

We all agreed that the wording of the license did not provide a very clear definition of broadcasting.  I was told that Crystal Decisions plans to post a clarification on their website.  I was also told that, despite the unfortunate wording used in the license, only FULLY automated processes are considered broadcasting.  If either the generation of the report, or the distribution of the report, requires some human intervention, then no broadcasting has occurred (see update below).  

We discussed several scenarios to make it clear:

1) A company employee exports an HTML page from Crystal Reports and uploads it to the company web site for 1,000 people to read.  This is not broadcasting because exporting and posting the file involves manual intervention.

2) A company employee exports a file to PDF and attaches the PDF to an Email message.  The Email message is sent to 1,000 people.  This is not broadcasting because exporting the file involves manual intervention.

3) A company has a scheduler program that automatically exports a report to an HTML file every Monday at 2am.  The scheduler exports this file directly to a web site folder where 90 people will read it on Monday morning. This is broadcasting because there is no manual intervention.  

4) A company has a scheduler program that automatically exports 
a report to a PDF file every Monday at 2am.  The scheduler also initiates an Email program that sends out messages to 90 people, with the PDF attached.  The This is broadcasting because there is no manual intervention.  

When you eliminate the manual intervention, and fully automate the process, you have violated the Crystal Reports license.  You would need to purchase a CRBL for $35,000 to be in compliance.   In my opinion, that amount of money can buy a lot of manual intervention.

Update - April 2003.  I based the above material on clear written statements from Crystal Decisions Product Managers (not sales).  These statements were sent to me last fall.  I have recently been informed by the same peson that these written statements were "incorrect".  I am in the process of clarifying this with them because I think customers have the right to rely on written statements provided by the management of Crystal Decisions, especially if a customer makes a business decision based on that information.  If you feel that this might affect you, then I suggest that you read the article in my April newsletter which gives the history of this issue.

Update - May 2003.
  Two important developments.   First some good news.   Crystal has just changed their licensing model for CRv9 to eliminate the $100,000 broadcast license.  You now get full broadcast rights when you buy CRv9 Advanced Edition.  Based on the fact that that price only went to $100,000 a few months ago, I am thinking that my efforts in publicizing this issue are one of the factors involved.  The bad news is that:

1)  You must buy and register the Advanced edition to be eligible to broadcast reports.
2) You  still need to buy the $100,000 license if you are broadcasting v8.5 reports.
3) The definition of broadcasting has been changed since I was given a written definition in the fall.
4) None of this applies to Crystal Enterprise.

Update - May 2004.  With the releast of CRv10 there is no more restriction on the automated distribution of static report output and the related wording has been dropped from the CR license.
You can read about this in my May newsletter.