When to Seek Help for a BSA | The Software Alliance Audit
Many companies choose to pursue an internal audit of software systems after receiving a request from the Business Software Alliance (BSA). When it comes to deciding how to proceed with an audit, there are multiple considerations, including, but not limited to, the size of the company, amount of computers, type of software at issue, IT support, and accuracy of a company’s records.
A small company with few computers is better suited than a larger corporation to conduct its own audit either manually or to take advantage of one of the many free software scan tools available on the internet. There are still risks of inaccuracy involved. One danger is that a company may submit information regarding a free download that may be mislabeled, and inaccurately reported to the BSA as unlicensed software.
This risk is amplified for larger companies with many computer systems and multiple users. If a large company seeks to conduct its own audit, the free scanning tools are still an acceptable choice, as manually checking each computer is both tedious and can lead to mistakes. An alternative is to seek a consultant who specializes in software infringement issues and who can assist with network inventory and sorting through software purchasing invoices and receipts. However, it is important to keep in mind that, unless that consultant is an attorney, he or she may have no duty of confidentiality to the company. Therefore, it is wise either to obtain a comprehensive confidentiality agreement from the consultant or to retain a knowledgeable attorney to assist with the inventory.
In addition to collecting an inventory of software installations, it is important to gather purchasing information to provide to the BSA. If receipts and invoices are not provided for all software installations reported, the BSA will assume the software is unlicensed and will increase its settlement demand. Regardless of the size of a company, if there are concerns about the ability to scan software, locate purchasing information or evaluate audit results, it is advisable to seek outside assistance with the process from an expert.