How Does The BSA Find Out About Unauthorized Copies
Typically, the BSA or Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) finds out when an anonymous informant tells them. They encourage informants to report piracy with promises of confidentiality and a potential reward. A classic example is the IT contractor or employee at a business. They have unique access and often will know whether all the copies of software used in the business are authorized. Another example is a disgruntled employee who finds out about the potential for a reward.
What Happens In An Audit By The BSA
Once an informant provides a tip, the BSA sends a cease and desist letter and/or a letter requesting an audit. The audit is used to determine if all the software available for use is properly licensed and paid for by the business. The type of audit depends on the circumstances and can be done by the business or conducted by an outside party. The business may have to verify all computers, all software, and all licenses.
After receiving an audit letter, the business what to do. In other words, do you ignore it, cooperate, or fight it?
Some Tips On How to Respond to a BSA Audit Letter
1. Do not ignore the letter. These audits are not scams. Businesses get fined ever day for software piracy. Ignoring it will only make the problem worse.
2. Do not destroy or delete software. This should go without saying, but many people tend to want to get rid of the evidence. This will only complicate matters when you have to explain what happened.
3. Do not fire anyone or retaliate. You may suspect an employee as an informant but you likely will never know for sure.
4. Do not try to purchase licensing after the fact. You will need to document purchases when the software was used anyway. Purchasing proper licenses likely will be part of any settlement in any event.
5. Hire counsel. Even if you decide to settle and cooperate, hiring an experienced software attorney is important. An attorney who has handled a software audit can often get reduced payments. Moreover, you do not want to provide admissions or statements to the BSA unless necessary.
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