Companies could pay up to $150K per infraction for unlicensed software use

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) is cracking down on the unauthorised use of software on behalf of tech giants, according to The Business Journals.

Published on 25th September 2017

Dive Brief:

  • The Business Software Alliance (BSA) is cracking down on the unauthorized use of software on behalf of tech giants like Apple, Microsoft, Cisco Systems, IBM and Adobe, according to The Business Journals. If caught, employers risk millions of dollars in fines due to copyright infringement.
  • Disgruntled ex-employees often tip off BSA that a firm is using its clients’ software without a license. BSA follows up with a letter accusing the firm of illegal duplication, demanding a software self-audit and threatening legal action.

The Business Journals say companies can protect themselves against unlicensed software use by: 1) conducting a self-audit of all electronic devices; 2) purchasing licenses immediately if under BSA scrutiny; 3) adopting software and hardware policies; 4) educating all staff on licensing use; 5) saving all purchasing receipts; and 6) getting legal help if contacted by BSA.

 

Dive Insight:

License agreements are often long documents written in legalese, but users should read them and adhere to the terms to avoid copyright infringement. IT staff or outside professionals should lead all self-audits, and employer policies should prohibit the unauthorized downloading of materials by staff and specify the consequences for doing so. Managers should be instructed to enforce the policies.

Software used to streamline some HR tasks can be legally tricky if left unchecked. A previous compliance flaw detected with some Form I-9 processing software meant expensive news for employers using it.

Workplaces might include software and hardware guidelines in their cybersecurity policies, which should warn employees about hacking, phishing and other cyber misconduct; how to avoid being scammed; and the penalties for breaching company networks internally.

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