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What You Should Know About The BSA Anti-Piracy Service

How Reputation Management and BSA Anti-Piracy are related

The Microsoft Corporation established the Software Alliance in 1988, which is also known as BSA. The trade group represents many leading software makers from around the world. It is responsible for monitoring, administering and enforcing matters relating to the unlicensed use of software programs. This is aimed at protecting the group’s corporate members from intellectual property infringement.

BSA rewards whistleblowers who provide useful information involving software piracy and illegal use in more than 60 countries around the globe. It conducts thorough investigations of cases brought to its attention. It achieves this objective using a combination of an extensive worldwide network of law firms and internal resources. End-users are encouraged to report illegal usage through the Software Alliance’s communications and license programs. The reports are handled directly and confidentially.

The laws of countries involved guide the enforcement actions. Some of the actions taken by the trade body include performing extensive audits, issuing warning letters and criminal raids conducted by local law enforcement agencies.

Businesses can take advantage of BSA’s software asset management (SAM) solutions, including the SAM Advantage online course. These solutions are designed to educate commercial organizations about SAM best practices and how to increase information technology efficiences and drastically minimize risks.

Unlicensed Software

The organization defines unlicensed software as the illegal distribution or use of software protected under intellectual laws. This encompasses selling, installation, sharing or downloading of copyrighted software programs. The same applies to license infringement — installing a program multiple times in defiance of licensing agreement’s conditions. BSA also monitors the flouting of license terms and conditions by sharing software license codes with colleagues or uploading them to websites for public use.

Individuals and companies found guilty of illegal use of copyrighted software could face civil and criminal penalties. Commercial entities using unlicensed software programs are more vulnerable to cyber-attacks, including spyware, viruses, ransomware and malware. Companies may also expose themselves to considerable ineffiencies.

Enforcement

The infringement of copyrighted software has a negative impact on entities like Microsoft, Adobe and Oracle. It creates unfair competition and compromises the viability of legitimate software publishers. The activities also expose users to a wide variety of cybersecurity threats, including data loss and security breaches. The Software Alliance reportedly investigated more than 15,000 cases of illegal use of copyrighted software programs.

Typically, the organization responds to the reports by taking legal action against the perpetrators. In addition, the body also refers cases to law enforcement agencies for criminal prosecution. It collaborates with the authorities throughout the investigations.

BSA’s global internet program detects and disrupts infringement activities using a comprehensive array of techniques. In some cases, it issues notices to website hosting service providers to remove any infringing files. As a result, hundreds of thousands of files, e-commerce listings and download links associated with counterfeit or unlicensed software are removed annually. These activities also result in felony convictionsand civil suits against distributors, some of the lawsuits involve millions of dollars in penalties.

Government Support

BSA handles its work in close cooperation with a number of government agencies around the world. The coordinated efforts are aimed at transforming cultural perceptions in relation to the legal use of copyrighted software. The body takes advantage of assistance by governments to promote its software asset management (SAM) programs. It also educates companies and individuals about the risks associated with software copyright infringements.

It works tirelessly to raise awareness of the economic impact linked to the illegal use of software programs. The Software Alliance’s global enforcement programs engage both the general public and end-user organizations. The targeted audience is properly educated about the economic value of copyrighted software. Companies that fail to heed the call to avoid unlicensed use of programs can face critical reputational damage, cybersecurity risks and legal issues.

BSA Solutions for Software Compliance

The Software Alliance offers compliance and effective software management programs. These business solutions are designed to help organizations maximize value of their software assets. Organizations and individuals can leverage a number of proprietary programs offered by BSA to reduce IT costs and mitigate risks associated with unlicensed software.

The SAM Advantage is the first ISO-aligned training course available in the sector. It is designed for the SAM professionals and information technology managers. The course educates professionals on best practices and it is available in several languages. Organizations can use the course to develop and implement ISO-aligned SAM processes.

The implementation of SAM processes provides a surefire way to protect entities from problems associated with penalties for using unlicensed software. Organizations also gain access to a wide variety of resources and free tools designed to help end-users handle the management of software programs more efficiently.

Impact of Non-Compliance on Businesses

Both small and large businesses can ill-afford to have their reputation damaged due to the use of unlicensed software. BSA typically notifies companies of a reported infringement before ordering an audit or issuing a demand, which may include hefty penalties. These scenarios can affect companies that do not carry out proper audit response protocols. Receiving a notice or a demand from BSA can be frightening for firms, particularly those that are unaware of the infringement.

In some cases, businesses receive an official notice from an attorney representing the Software Alliance. When an audit is requested, organizations are required to run a specialized audit software program provided by BSA. The program is designed to verify the status of all software operating on the company’s computers.

If any infringement is detected, the entity may be subject to a civil demand of amounts worth hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. The penalties are applicable even if the perpetrator offers to remove the illegal software. BSA holds organizations accountable for all unlicensed software instances detected by the audit. Lack of cooperation with the demand may result in a lawsuit that can damage the company’s reputation.

Some of the companies that are subjected to BSA audits report having been visited by the software makers. The visits only compounded the situation as additional audits and hefty penalties were demanded for upgraded software. It is common for software publishers and BSA to demand the payment of three times the value per license in penalties. In addition, offenders may be required to purchase the applicable seats.

Many firms unwittingly infringe on the terms and conditions of the software license agreements, which are typically complex, lengthy and burdensome. Some of the organizations that have subjected to BSA enforcement actions argue that it is unfair for users with multiple versions of a software like Office not to benefit from waivers. The programs are often split into several components, thus inflating the penalty amount.

This usually affects entities that are victims of disgruntled former employees or poor software auditing practices. For this reason, it is vital for companies to become diligent when it comes to tracking software licensing compliance. This provides a surefire way to avoid penalties, legal fees, reputational damage and the cost of software licensing audits.

Companies found guilty of infringements may lose lucrative federal government contracts. Federal law imposes fines of up to $150,000 per software program that has been illegally copied. Individuals could face up to five years imprisonment or $250,000 in fines. Hence, BSA offers rewards of up to $1 million to whistleblowers who report software-licensing violations.

The reports should meet certain criteria to become eligible for the reward. Lucrative rewards are particularly tempting for former employees to file reports against infringing firms.

BSA Piracy Reputation Management: Monitoring Compliance

Organizations can benefit from using licensed software by implementing a simple audit protocol system. It is vital to adopt written policies designed to prevent software licensing violations. The entity should establish an authorization process that is strictly followed before the installation of any software. Employees must be educated on the importance of full compliance.

Keeping an active inventory is a practical way to monitor compliance on all software products purchased and used by the organization. When an unlicensed software is detected on the company’s computers, it should be promptly removed and replaced by a licensed version. However, this only applies to infringements detected by an internal audit. BSA does not reverse penalties based on post-violation clean up and compliance.

Benefits of Using Licensed Software

Organizations that avoid software licensing violations can take advantage of improved cybersecurity. In turn, this reduces the risk of data loss and security breaches, which can cost the firm a substantial amount of money. A growing number of firms have lost money to criminals due to ransomware and various other types of cybersecurity threats.

Licensed programs have been proven to improve the management of software assets. Additionally, organizations benefit from ongoing technical support offered by the software publishers. The software can be distributed legally within the business in accordance with the licensing agreement’s terms and conditions. On the other hand, properly managed software assets enable entities to save money, effort and time.

Software makers usually provide preferential pricing and volume discounts to customers. Volume licensing helps streamline and simplify various aspects of the business, including accounting procedures, software purchasing and re-ordering.