PRVCA has learned from PAA that a dealership in Pennsylvania that has been reported to The Software Alliance (BSA). BSA is a trade group which represents a number of the world’s largest software makers. Its principal activity is trying to stop the copyright infringement of software produced by its members. BSA’s methods of enforcement can include a written request for self-audit of the dealership’s software installations, an on-site visit to inspect the dealership’s software or hardware, or legal proceedings against dealerships that BSA has reason to believe are infringing upon BSA member companies’ software copyrights.
Software piracy is the mislicensing, unauthorized reproduction and illegal distribution of software, whether for business or personal use.
What should the dealership do if contacted by the BSA? Never ignore a communication or request from the BSA. Dealers should contact an attorney knowledgeable about software copyright claims – preferably someone who had dealt with a BSA investigation before – to assist with the dealership’s response.
If the first point of contact with the BSA is an in-person visit, dealers should immediately contact legal counsel. An attorney can negotiate with the BSA confidentially, and can insist that the terms of any resolution of BSA’s claims be confidential.
While compliance with a BSA investigation is technically voluntary, refusal to comply usually provides the BSA little other recourse than to bring a lawsuit against the dealership for copyright infringement.
Responding to an infringement suit is not voluntary and can be extremely costly.
What are the possible outcomes of a BSA investigation? The dealership may have a costly license fine to pay, as well as the legal fees incurred to resolve the situation. The dealership will also have to purchase new software licenses for the products needed to continue to run the business, because settling with the BSA does not include the purchase of compliant software.
How can the dealership avoid software enforcement issues? Dealerships must be aware of software licenses and downloads to dealership computers. Most software compliance issues are unintentional and can be traced to a lack of monitoring of license expirations, a lack of awareness of employee conduct, or failure to preserve software purchase documentation.
Diligent employee training, regular monitoring of company servers and machines for license expirations and matching documentation, and a zero tolerance policy for illegal downloading are valuable prevention tools.
Software Piracy Frequently Asked Questions
Is it okay to use a software program on any number of machines?
No, software can only be used for the number of licenses purchased. For example, it is illegal to copy a software program from your office machine to use at home even if it is for work purposes unless you purchase an additional license for the additional machine. It is also illegal to loan to other dealership locations or to create copies of software for additional computers.
Is all software purchased online legitimate?
Dealerships should be cautious of purchasing software online due to Internet piracy-the selling of illegal copies of software online. Dealerships should only purchase software online from reputable companies.
What are the dealership’s responsibilities as a consumer?
Purchase only legal copies of software. Legal copies can include discs, manuals, and registration numbers. In addition, install only on machines you have purchased licenses for, if the dealership buys one copy then only install one copy on one machine.
Courtesy of PAA Bulletin No. 10, 5/24/2018