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Business Software Alliance (BSA)
The Business Software Alliance, also known as BSA, is a trade group established by the Microsoft Corporation in 1988 and represents a number of the world’s largest software makers and is a member of the International Intellectual Property Alliance. The Business Software Alliance is the leading advocate for the global software industry before governments and in the international marketplace. Its members are among the world’s most innovative companies, creating software solutions that spark the economy and improve modern life.
The Business Software Alliance,” is a trade group founded by Microsoft that attempts to eliminate software piracy of the software made by its members. Many major software makers are part of the BSA, including Adobe, Apple, Autodesk and Oracle, among others.
Since conception the BSA has been perceived as an enforcement organization that targeted software pirates and allocated hefty fines to its offenders. The organization has since evolved from from that, while still strongly pursuant of software pirates and still laying down the law with its hefty offender fines, in addition to all of this the BSA now focuses on helping to educate companies and individuals about policies that:
- Allow the free flow of data across borders.
- Avoid requirements for data services to store data locally.
- Advocate a balanced approach to privacy and security issues.
- Advance intellectual property policies that are comprehensive and enforceable.
- Open global markets to digital trade and mitigate market access barriers for the software industry.
- Encourage a level playing field by promoting procurement policies that are fair and non-discriminatory.
The BSA runs constant campaigns online, via radio and television commercials, by electronic e-mail newsletters, as well as physical mailers to specific targeted business and personal areas of concern.
They currently run their reporting business via the web at www.NoPiracy.org and www.reporting.bsa.org in an effort to achieve illegal software piracy leads to make their criminal busts. Some of their advertising strategies even offer cash value to anyone whom reports business’ or individuals utilizing, selling, or harboring unlicensed software.
“Our compliance programs engage and educate end-users on the benefits of properly licensed software and the legal and business risks, including cyber-risks, associated with unlicensed software use. . . Through our collaboration with these agencies, media outlets, and local organizations, we reach millions of end-users in over 60 countries. . . We also educate and train the business community and IT professionals around the world on the ISO-aligned best practices needed to institute a robust Software Asset Management (SAM) system to increase IT efficiencies and reduce risks.” – BSA.org
What If Your Organization Gets A Software Audit Notice From The BSA:
1. Don’t Ignore a BSA Software Audit Notice – Failing to respond to a letter from the BSA, SIIA, or software publisher, will likely make your problems worse and could include litigation against you and your company.
2. Consult Experienced Legal Counsel – When considering an attorney to defend your company in a BSA | The Software Alliance audit, experience and track record are two important keys to consider.
2. Preserve Evidence – Do not uninstall or change computer configurations until an accurate inventory of computers has been gathered. Look at your BSA | The Software Alliance audit notice and you will see that they make it very clear that they consider uninstalling software or purchasing software in response to the audit notice to be unacceptable.
4. Don’t Use Free Tools Provided By Software Associations – While these tools can be very helpful, the raw data they produce is some time inaccurate and may damages to your legal position in a BSA audit case.
5. Avoid Knee-Jerk Purchases – Avoid making purchases until a complete inventory and case assessment has been completed. In most cases, it’s a waste of money to purchase software in response to a software audit.
6. Maintain Confidentiality – Client prepared audit materials and related documentation may be discover-able in a lawsuit. An attorney-supervised audit report is protected by attorney-client and attorney work-product privileges. In addition, if you use an outside vendor for IT services it is important to insure that the vendor has an NDA in place before any BSA audit case related information is shared with the vendor.
7. Condition Audit Disclosure – Software piracy audit materials should only by disclosed after an appropriate agreement regarding confidentiality and non-use of the information has been signed by the software piracy enforcement agency.
8. Estimate Software Piracy Fine – Always review the draft audit materials with your attorney before they are produced to make sure everyone is clear on the potential financial exposure involved.
9. Argue Software Piracy Legal Issues – There are many legal issues involved in software piracy audits including what constitutes infringement, who has the burden of proof, how damages should be calculated, what constitutes proof of ownership and many others. These legal points should be vigorously argued in an effort to reduce software piracy settlement demands.
10. Negotiate Non-Monetary Terms – Carefully consider important issues like future audit obligations, confidentiality of these settlement terms, the nature and scope of the release being offering.
11. Focus On Your Business – Continue to stay focused on running your business and taking care of your customers. Find an experienced attorney that can quarterback you and your organization through the audit practice so you don’t lose sleep over what might happen and you can stay focused on doing what you do best. Running your business.
BSA conducts and releases a number studies and reports related to the software industry, including the Global Software Survey, which estimates the volume and value of unlicensed software installed on personal computers in countries around the world — as well as the Global Cloud Computing Scorecard, which ranks the cloud computing readiness of 24 countries. BSA’s compliance and enforcement team ensures that member companies’ innovations are fully licensed and that end users understand the benefits of legitimate software. Each year, BSA investigates thousands of unlicensed software cases which harms software publishers and their brand and exposes customers to a wide range of risk.
Business Software Alliance Headquarters & Members:
BSA is headquartered in Washington, DC and has offices, staff, and active operations in more than 60 countries around the world.
BSA’s members include: Adobe, ANSYS, Apple, Autodesk, Bentley Systems, CA Technologies, CNC/Mastercam, DataStax, Dell, IBM, Intuit, Microsoft, Minitab, Oracle, salesforce.com, SAS, Siemens PLM, Splunk, Symantec, The MathWorks, Trend Micro, Trimble and Workday.