The Business Software Alliance (BSA) and the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), trade organizations of software publishers are pursuing small and medium businesses by demanding audit details of computer systems under the threat of litigation. BSA’s members include software publishing companies such as Microsoft, Adobe, Autodesk, Apple, IBM (News - Alert), Oracle, Novell and Symantec. These members have given a power of attorney to represent them in software audit matters.
SIIA is the principal trade association for the software and digital content industry. The SIIA’s Anti-Piracy Division conducts a comprehensive, industry-wide campaign to fight software piracy and content piracy. It has also initiated a$1 million Reward Program for those who report piracy taking place within an organization. SIIA will retain all revenue received from settlements that are extracted primarily from small to medium sized companies.
In a release, Robert J. Scott, managing partner, Scott & Scott, LLP, said the $1 Million Reward Programs advertised by BSA and SIIA appear to be quite effective. The SIIA has reported that they had the highest payout to informants in 2009 since they started the program in 2003. Scott added that BSA has also received an average of 2500 reports annually, the majority of which come from current or former employees. The law and technology services firm of Scott & Scott, LLP has represented more than 135 clients in software audit defense cases. Scott & Scott’s legal and technology professionals provide software audit defense and software compliance solutions that are protected by attorney-client and work-product privileges.
Scott recommends that businesses should adopt a corporate policy on software compliance, have tighter restrictions on desktop users and institute best practices for documenting software purchases. In fact, businesses should at least audit annually what software is running in their environment. In addition, a business should keep all receipts from software purchases indefinitely and purchase only from authorized dealers and avoid use of vendor-provided free SAM tools. Finally, if a business receives a letter from the associations or one of their member software companies, it should seek experienced legal counsel.
Scott added that the cash rewards from BSA and SIIA seem to be encouraging software piracy as disgruntled employees see the reward as a means of becoming millionaires. In fact, Scott’s clients have often found that the person making the report would be their employee in charge of software compliance.