When to Buy vs. Uninstall Software in BSA | The Software Alliance Audits

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One of the most common mistakes I encounter in BSA audits is what I call the post-effective date software buying spree. The buying spree occurs in response to a letter from the BSA’s attorney’s requesting a self audit. Many clients are discouraged to learn that software purchases made after the date of the BSA’s initial letter have no impact in a BSA audit matter. For this reason, I advise my clients against scrambling to acquire software in response to a BSA audit.

The first thing a target of BSA audit needs to do is preserve the evidence of BSA member software products installed on the company’s computers as of the audit effective date. Second, the software installed needs to be reconciled against proofs of purchase information to determine whether there is gap between licenses owned and software installed. Third, a decision needs to be made regarding whether to purchase or uninstall any unlicensed software. The BSA audits only those products installed as of the audit effective date, and accepts only proofs of purchase dated on or before that date.

I advise my clients that regardless of what was installed on the audit effective date, they only need to purchase software licenses for products that they need to use going forward. Although it will not resolve past liability, companies may choose to uninstall unlicensed BSA member products at the conclusion of the audit matter, rather than purchase unnecessary software simply because it was installed on the effective date. At the conclusion of a BSA matter, the target must certify that it has come into compliance through the combination of buying and\or uninstalling.