BSA Defense

Business Software Alliance Audit FAQ


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Q. What is the Business Software Alliance?

A. The Business Software Alliance is an industry trade group whose members include software giants such as Microsoft, Adobe, Symantec, Macromedia, and Computer Associates.

 

Q. What authority does the Business Software Alliance have to conduct audits and levy fines?

A. The BSA has no independent law enforcement authority of any kind. Its rights are derived from a power of attorney provided by its member software companies. Those companies have rights created by their software license agreements and under the laws protecting copyrights.

 

Q. What will happen if I ignore correspondence from the Business Software Alliance or its lawyers?

A. The Business Software Alliance is well funded and very aggressive. Attempting to ignore the problem by not responding will likely make your problems worse, leaving the BSA with no other option but to institute litigation against you and your company.

 

Q. What are my options for complying with the requested self-audit from the BSA?

A. To conduct a self-audit you can either use your internal staff, retain the services of an outside IT vendor, or use the services of an experienced law firm such as Scott & Scott, LLP.

 

Q. What are the benefits of an attorney-conducted software audit?

A. Unlike internal audits, and IT-vendor audits, attorney-conducted audits are fully protected by the attorney-work product and attorney-client privileges. The results are protected from disclosure and therefore cannot be used against you or your company in court.

 

Q. I just received a letter from the BSA, what will happen if I purchase the missing titles now?

A. The Business Software Alliance will not give you credit for any titles purchased after the date of the audit letter and will likely seek sanctions against your company based upon “spoliation” of evidence in the event of litigation. If you have been contacted by the BSA, you should retain experienced counsel to guide you through every step of the process.

 

Q. Can I find out who made the report that resulted in a BSA audit of my company?

A. The Business Software Alliance will not voluntarily release the names of their informants because the promise of confidentiality increases the volume of reports. In the event of litigation, it is likely however that the factual basis for the allegations in the lawsuit, including the informant’s information, may be discovered.

 

Q. If the BSA has no regulatory authority, why would anyone cooperate?

A. The BSA's members are aggressive about ensuring compliance with software licenses and will likely file suit if they have no response from a BSA target.

 

Q. What is the most important part of the investigation portion of a bsa audit?

A. Obtaining an inventory of network deployments that is accurate as of the date of the BSA's opening letter and getting complete entitlement records.

 

Q. Should I take the BSA matter seriously?

A. Many BSA matters result in six-figure penalties and should be treated like any serious legal matter.

 

Q. How long will it take Scott & Scott to give us an estimated financial exposure?

A. In most cases, it takes three to six months to evaluate sufficient information to make an estimate.

 

Q. Can Scott & Scott collect deployment information without traveling to our office?

A. Yes, in most cases the network inventory can be conducted remotely.

 

Q. Is there a way that I can estimate my exposure in a BSA Audit prior to engaging counsel?

A. We recommend that you visit our Fine Calculator.

 

Q. Do I have to use BSA-recommended tools to conduct the network inventory?

A. No, the BSA will often accept audits conducted using other software asset discovery tools.

 

Q. Does the BSA ever reject proofs of entitlement?

A. The BSA will reject an invoice or other entitlement if the purchase price is too low, if the vendor is not reputable, or if the proof does not contain all of the required information.

 

Q. How soon after producing audit materials will I receive a settlement demand?

A. A settlement demand can be received the same day, or many months after production of the audit, depending on a number of factors.

 

Q. Can you help us even if we have already submitted our audit materials?

A. Yes, Scott & Scott can assist clients during every stage of the BSA audit process.

 

Q. How long will it take to resolve my BSA matter?

A. A typical BSA audit matter is pending 12-18 months.

 

Q. If I hire an attorney, will the BSA assume I am hiding something?

A. Absolutely not. The BSA's attorneys understand that clients who have done nothing wrong need an experienced resource to guide them through the process.

 

Q. Will the BSA or its members notify me before they file suit?

A. Not always. In some instances, the lawsuit may be a surprise.

 

Q. Where would a lawsuit be filed?

A. The venue of the suit would depend on the nature of the case and any forum-selection clauses in the relevant software licenses.

 

Q. Can I file suit against the BSA or its members?

A. We evaluate potential litigation matters on a case-by-case basis. Some of our clients have filed suit against BSA members.