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Tracking Down Proofs of Purchase for Software Licenses

When a company receives a letter from the Business Software Alliance (BSA) questioning the authenticity of software licensing status and demanding an in-house audit, it is very important to have proofs of purchase for the licenses in question. Absent sufficient proof of purchase, the BSA will assume that the associated software installations are unlicensed and will demand that the company pay a penalty to resolve claims of alleged copyright infringement. It is also important to note that the BSA requires specific types of proof of purchase in its evaluation of a company’s compliance status.  For example, a serial number, installation CD, or an empty box in which software was sold likely will not be acceptable to the BSA to establish proof of license.

Therefore, it is an important to keep records of all software purchased, regardless of the vendor or the date purchased. Typical forms that are acceptable to the BSA include receipts of purchase and invoices from authorized vendors. If software is pre-installed on a computer, a company may be able to obtain documentation from the manufacturer showing all such software on that computer.

Once all of the information related to installations and licenses is gathered, it is submitted to the BSA for review. The review may be a lengthy process, usually ultimately culminating in a settlement offer, which is typically negotiated downward. It is therefore key to submit all information proving proper licensing to decrease the total settlement. By obtaining a lower opening settlement offer, a company can reduce total exposure in negotiations.