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What is Escrow?

Escrow is when a depositor gives a copy of a digital materials such as software source code, documents, or other digital asset to an independent, neutral 3rd party (e.g., Tower 48) for safekeeping until a release condition is met. If and when a release condition is met, the assets can be handed over to one or more other parties (often the depositor’s client). There is a contractual agreement in place defining the exact conditions that must be met (such as the depositor going out of business, the depositor not supporting a product anymore, or the customer rendering payment) in order for the transfer of the escrowed assets to a beneficiary to occur.

Escrow services benefit both depositors and beneficiaries. Depositors who escrow their assets are more likely to win contracts over those who don’t, without having to give up control of the assets, thus keeping their assets protected. Depositors can hold their assets in escrow until pre-defined release conditions (final payment for example) have been met, upon which the assets will immediately be released to the beneficiaries. Beneficiaries benefit since they are reassured that scenarios such as the depositor “disappearing” (through bankruptcy, merger, product abandonment, or for any other reason) is not a risk to them or their business and that they will have immediate access to the escrowed assets.

This gives both parties peace of mind and economic and logistical security, as the investment of all parties is well protected in any scenario imaginable — a crucial aspect for both parties in today’s uncertain economic climate!

Frequently Asked Questions

Sample Contract

How much does it Cost?

Useful plans start at less than $1/day. Exact cost depends on the number of assets, beneficiaries, and in some cases with large assets, the size of the overall uploaded information. Pre-configured payment packages make it easy to determine what your costs will be in advance and custom pricing structures can be established for special needs for a reasonable setup fee.

How do escrow contracts get created?

Our standard contracts cover 99% of our customers needs without modification. As a depositor, you simply choose which of the commonly used release conditions apply to your situation. We also offer services to create custom agreements if one of the standard contracts doesn't meet all of your needs.

Who bears the cost of the escrow service?

Typically, the depositor establishes and pays for the escrow account while beneficiaries only pay a minimal release fee if and when the software is released by the depositor or the courts. However payment can be made by any party. See our pricing page for more information. Custom pricing structures can also be established for special needs for a reasonable setup fee.

What if there is a legal dispute over the escrowed assets?

Tower 48's legal team is there to ensure that both parties are protected and can help guide the process through the legal system if required. Your assets can only be released by the depositor or by an order of the court with proper jurisdiction.

Are my deposited assets safe?

Your files are encrypted and obfuscated during the upload to Tower 48 over a secure connection. Escrowed assets are currently stored in a secure data center and plans have been made to divide the files among multiple servers so that a breach of a single system will not give a hacker access to your information. Only the depositor or a court order can release assets to beneficiaries.

How many products can I put into escrow?

There is no limit to the number of products that can be escrowed.

Should I password protect my files before uploading them?

No, typically you would not want to encrypt the zip files you upload to Tower 48. Both the zip files and the password would have to be stored with Tower 48 and we'd have to release both the zip files and password together in the event a release condition is met. The files are stored on our secure servers, and our upload process makes it virtually impossible to intercept the files with packet sniffing software. The only time it makes sense to password protect your zip files is if you plan on using a 4th party to validate the uploaded materials and ensure the password works as expected in which case the depositor would have to share the passwords with only the 4th party.

How many files can I put into escrow for each product?

There is no limit to the number of files that can be escrowed for each product. Depositors can even integrate escrow into their own systems and processes to create a completely automatic scenario. While the recommended procedure is to group all of the assets for a product into a single zip file for easy organization, there is no technical limitation on uploading any number of files.

How can I look up an existing Tower 48 customer to make them a beneficiary for one of my products?

You can look up a beneficiary either by their Tower 48 "T48-" number or by email address.

How do I get my files into escrow?

Once your account is established, you can upload individual files through the Tower 48 web site or as an automated part of your process by using the Tower 48 SDK or web services.

I represent a large company with many potential accounts. How can I manage a large set of accounts with Tower 48?

Tower 48 plans to offer enterprise services for large accounts with features such as consolidated billing and account management.

How do I configure "release conditions"?

Release conditions are set up whenever a new beneficiary is added to your account. Each beneficiary can have its own set of release conditions. For example, the release condition for one customer may be that the assets associated with the produuct are only released to the beneficiary if the depositor goes out of business, while the release condition for another customer is that the source code is released if the company goes out of business OR fails to support the product. A 3rd agreement might release the files to an arbitrator in the event of a legal dispute. Release conditions for each beneficiary are in your control.

As a beneficiary, how do I know the files in escrow are valid?

You will be notified whenever a file is uploaded to a product for which you are the beneficiary. You can see information about the files, including the names and sizes of files within an uploaded zip file by logging into your account on the web site. If you want to have a 3rd party validate the assets further, you can contract with Tower 48 or a 3rd party agreeable to both you and the depositor do that for you.

As a beneficiary, how will I receive assets that are released to me?

When a release condition is triggered, you will receive an email notifying you of your eligibility to download the files in the released product. You can download the files at any time by successfully logging into the Tower 48 web site and looking on the "My Receivables" page of the Client Center.

What if the depositor deletes the assets or removes me as a beneficiary?

Only Tower 48 can permanently erase contracts and files that have been uploaded. While a depositor can detach beneficiaries and delete files (such as old, outdated versions) to make administration more manageable, they can not deprive beneficiaries of their rights under the escrow contract.

As a vendor, how can I manage thousands of beneficiaries for my products?

Typically vendors use our SDK to sell escrow services along with their products. For example, escrow might be an additional item available for purchase on your web site. When your customer buys a product with escrow, the web site uses our SDK to establish a beneficiary account automatically and links it to the product using the specified contract and release conditions.

Should I keep my "T-48" number secret?

No, your T48- number can be shared with anyone. The only use someone would have for that number is to make you a beneficiary of their product(s). You can not log into Tower 48 with your T48- number, only with your email address and password.

What if Tower 48 goes out of business?

Considering Tower 48 is backed by several other organizations, it is unlikely that Tower 48 will go out of business. If Tower 48 were to go out of business, we have procedures in place to perform an "orderly shutdown", in which all depositors and beneficiaries would be notified, and a transfer of the service to another escrow company could take place. This still leaves the possibility of a beneficiery needing software released right within a time when Tower 48 would not be available, or perhaps such an "orderly shutdown" may not be possible for other reason. For this scenario, we have an agreement with a law firm to take over Tower 48's obligations to make sure no depositors or beneficiaries suffer any ill effects.

Will Tower 48 touch my source code?

Tower 48 does have access to deposited assets, just like a bank has access to a customer's money, and other escrow companies have access to deposited DVDs. However, violating our agreement with our customers would completely ruin Tower 48's business model and "bring the company down", as this would be a criminal act. To secure your assets we make sure that most Tower 48 staff does not have access to any escrowed assets in any way.

More Questions?

Call us at 832-482-0642 or toll-free at 855-Tower48 (855-869-3748).
Or e-mail us at info@tower48.com.




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