What does an Autodesk internal software audit request look like? The EULA may dictate that you agreed to a Private audit of CAD or Revit or Inventor for example.
August 2020 update: Despite Covid virus, Autodesk is still out looking for "software pirates" and in several cases, is telling me current Autodesk clients (ex. those using Inventor, Fusion 360, AutoCAD or Revit) are REQUIRED to participate in a "contractual audit." This means, the terms of the EULA (End User License Agreement) require that you agree to an audit when they request one. This may seem kind of onerous, especially during these difficult financial times were companies are laying people off and losing money, but that's where things are at. Recently, we had a potential client call upset after he engaged in such an audit, and ran the Autodesk script only to find it showed more licenses than he actually installed on his computers, laptops and servers. In other words, he said the information was inaccurate. These things can happen, and moreover, what if you use their script and it causes computer problems? Do you think they will pay for any damage caused? No, is the simple answer.
This is why we have offered a "no-brainer" flat rate fee so you can have legal counsel, just like Autodesk does, normally through their bay area copyright law firm Donahue Fitzgerald. Call us to discuss your case BEFORE you start installing script, by then, it may be difficult to "unring the bell."
Also, keep in mind, if you post job ads for people with AutoCAD or Revit skills, and don't have a paid license, this can trigger a license compliance issue. Also, if you tout your "skills" on LinkedIN this has also been known to lead to a potential software audit. Things to keep in mind. Stay safe out there! We have helped many clients large and small, and have years of experience, and likely the leader in Autodesk audit response in the United States.
We have people who get emails like the one below and wonder if they are real or a scam. Here is one that is REAL so you can see what a legitimate one may look like. Before you engage in these types of audits you may want to discuss retaining counsel to assist you. Once willful copyright infringement is established, statutory penalties can range from $30,000 to $150,000 per infringed title. We have helped many companies get through this process and limit their liability.
2019 Autodesk Audit Updates
- You may receive an email from Autodesk demanding you to participate in a legal software audit.
- They have attorneys on their side and you should consider being represented on your end.
- Their law firm Donahue Fitzgerald (SF bay area) may DEMAND that your architect, engineering or design firm submit to a “contractual audit” or demand that you login to a “portal” and install their script. There are major pitfalls and dangers to this.
- Bottom line, we offer low FLAT RATE LEGAL FEES that allows your company (and you as an officer and director of the company, who can also be held liable) to have legal representation on your side.
Watch Attorney Steve Explain Autodesk 2019 Auditing Strategies – ONSITE or THIRD PARTY AUDITS possible!!!
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Sample Autodesk email
Thank you for your registration in the Autodesk Software Review Portal.
Your company's Autodesk Software Review submission is now overdue. Please submit the information required in the Portal within the next 5 business days.
As a licensee of Autodesk software and services, your company is requested to complete the Profile questions, upload an Inventory of your Autodesk software and submit this information to Autodesk as part of the Software Review process.
The Autodesk Software Review Portal is located at: https://software-review.autodesk.com. Your company's unique registration code is: XXXXXXXX
We recommend you review the User Guide found on the “How It Works” page as a reference. If you experience issues with the Review process, please use the messaging feature in the Portal for assistance.
If your company does not complete the Software Review in the Portal, an Autodesk Software Management Representative will contact you or your company.
Thank you for your cooperation.
The Autodesk Software Management Team www.autodesk.com
Listen to Attorney Steve® explain the Autodesk Internal Audit Process
PODCAST: Click on the picture to hear the Podcast.
Another sample email you might have received
Dear Autodesk Customer,
As part of Autodesk's on-going Software Asset Management Program, your company has been selected to undergo a required software compliance audit. This process will help ensure your organization's installation and use of Autodesk products and services is compliant with applicable licensing agreements,
Please perform an inventory of your deployed Autodesk software and provide the required information in the Autodesk Software License Review Portal within the next 15 days.
The portal is located at https://software-review.autodesk.com/. Your company's unique registration code is XXXXXXXXXX
A user Guide, FAQs, and other resources are available on the portal to guide your company through this process.
If you have any issues with the portal, please contact an Autodesk Software Asset Management Consultant at 1-833-588-9571.
Autodesk would like to thank you for your continued business. We value our partnership and believe that our joint attention to software compliance will strengthen this relationship going forward.
International Copyright Lawyer
Autodesk Latin America Software Audits (LTAM)
Another thing we are seeking is INTERNATIONAL audits being conducted by Autodesk representatives in Latin America (LTAM). The letter demanding an audit may include a "confidentiality agreement" that says you submit to jurisdiction of California Courts including the Northern District Court of California. You should seek legal counsel before signing these types of agreements. Once signed, you could find yourself being hauled into California if there is wide scale software piracy. Their confidentiality agreement, in my opinion, leaves companies in Latin America vulnerable to having the audit results shared with California Copyright Counsel (likely the Donahue Fitzgerald law firm located in the bay area), and there is also "caselaw" that says your company (even though located outside the United States) could be sued in California if the "brunt" of the injury can be felt in California. In fact, we have seen this first hand and local courts are VERY PROTECTIVE of their local software companies who employ many people. If you received a notice and live in one of the following countries, call us for a free consultation. We have dealt with Autodesk copyright counsel perhaps more than any law firm in the United States.
- El Salvador
- Uruguay Guadeloupe (France)
- Dominican Republic
- Saint Barthelemy (France)
- French Guiana
- Costa Rica
- Puerto Rico (US)
- Saint Martin(France)
The Personal Jurisdiction Issue (over non-U.S. companies) in software piracy cases in CA
Even if you do not sign the Autodesk confidentiality agreement, there is case law indicating your foreign company could be sued in the states. Here is some language from one case in California Northern District Courts:
"Rule 12(b)(2) governs motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that the court has jurisdiction over the defendant. Pebble Beach Co. v. Caddy , 453 F.3d 1151, 1154 (9th Cir. 2006). However, this demonstration requires that the plaintiff "make only a prima facie showing of jurisdictional facts to withstand the motion to dismiss." Love v. Assoc'd. Newspapers, Ltd. , 611 F.3d 601, 608 (9th Cir. 2010). To make this showing, "the plaintiff need only demonstrate facts that if true would support jurisdiction over the defendant." Ballard v. Savage , 65 F.3d 1495, 1498 (9th Cir. 1995). "Uncontroverted allegations in the complaint must be taken as true, and conflicts over statements contained in affidavits must be resolved in [plaintiff's] favor." Love , 611 F.3d at 608. Otherwise, a defendant could prevent a plaintiff from meeting his burden simply by contradicting the plaintiff's affidavits. Farmers Ins. Exch. v. Portage La Prairie Mut. Ins. Co. , 907 F.2d 911, 912 (9th Cir. 1990).
Courts properly exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant "if it is permitted by a long-arm statute and if the exercise of jurisdiction does not violate federal due process." Pebble Beach Co. , 453 F.3d at 1154. "Federal courts ordinarily follow state law in determining the bounds of their jurisdiction over persons." Daimler AG v. Bauman , –––U.S. ––––, 134 S.Ct. 746, 753, 187 L.Ed.2d 624 (2014).
Because "California's long-arm statute allows the exercise of personal jurisdiction to the full extent permissible under the U.S. Constitution," a court's inquiry centers on whether exercising jurisdiction comports with due process. Id. ; see Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 410.10 ("A court of this state may exercise jurisdiction on any basis not inconsistent with the Constitution of this state or of the United States."). Due process requires that nonresident defendants have "minimum contact" with the forum state such that the exercise of personal jurisdiction "does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington , 326 U.S. 310, 316, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945) (internal quotations omitted).
A court may exercise either general or specific jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant. Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall , 466 U.S. 408, 414, 104 S.Ct. 1868, 80 L.Ed.2d 404 (1984). General jurisdiction exists where a defendant has "substantial" or "continuous and systematic" contacts with the forum. Id. at 415, 104 S.Ct. 1868. If general jurisdiction exists, the forum has jurisdiction over the defendant regardless of where the events giving rise to the litigation occurred."
To establish purposeful direction, a plaintiff must satisfy a three-part test drawn from the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in Calder v. Jones , 465 U.S. 783, 104 S.Ct. 1482, 79 L.Ed.2d 804 (1984) : (1) the defendant must have committed an intentional act; (2) the defendant's act was expressly aimed at the forum state; and (3) the defendant knew the brunt of the harm was likely to be suffered in the forum state. Dole Food Co. v. Watts , 303 F.3d 1104, 1111(9th Cir. 2002) (citing Calder , 465 U.S. at 788–89, 104 S.Ct. 1482 ).
Are these audits MANDATORY?
If I was involved in an audit directly with Autodesk, or through their man law firm Donahue Fitzgerald that handles other software compliance issues for the software powerhouse, I would ask to see the signed contract wherein your company agreed to engage in mandatory audits upon request. You may be able to negotiate out of this, and there are some steps you should consider taking to protect your company before just giving in and conceding.
Contact a Software License Compliance Law Firm (United States Copyright Lawyer).
We can help you if you are dealing with either an internal audit, or one initiated by receiving a letter from a law firm. You should note that the Business Software Alliance (“BSA”) a software trade association can also bring an audit demand for companies like CNC, Adobe, Microsoft and including Autodesk. We offer low flat rate fees and we are one of the leading intellectual property law firms in the United States having handled hundreds of these cases. Call us at (877) 276-5084 for a no cost initial consultation.