A distributed computer system employs a license management system to account for software product usage. A management policy having a variety of alternative styles and contexts is provided. Each licensed product upon start-up makes a call to a license server to check on whether usage is permitted, and the license server checks a database of the licenses, called product use authorizations, that it administers. If the particular use requested is permitted, a grant is returned to the requesting user node. The product use authorization is structured to define a license management policy allowing a variety of license alternatives by values called "style", "context", "duration" and "usage requirements determination method". The license administration may be delegated by the license server to a subsection of the organization, by creating another license management facility duplicating the main facility. The license server must receive a license document (a product use authorization) from an issuer of licenses, where a license document generator is provided. A mechanism is provided for one user node to make a call to use a software product located on another user node; this is referred to as a "calling card", by which a user node obtains permission to make a procedure call to use a program on another node. A management interface allows a license manager at a server to modify the license documents in the database maintained by the server, within the restraints imposed by the license, to make delegations, assignments, etc. The license documents are maintained in a standard format referred to as a license document interchange format so the management system is portable and can be used by all adhering software vendors. A feature of the database management is the use of a filter function.