Attorney Steve® Software Audit Essentials - Scope of the Audits
When your company uses Autodesk software, you are subject to an audit at any time. This is set forth in the audit clause. However, when the audit "love letter" (as we call it) comes, it will many times ask you to audit NOT ONLY YOUR OWN COMPANY but also contractors and independent agents and others. Should you comply with their request in full detail? Let's take a look.
What is the scope of the audit?
An audit demand letter may have language similar to the following:
As stated in our correspondence you should audit, all company computers, laptops and servers and including all management including their family members, employees such as designers, etc. and third parties (such as contractors and interns), in the US and internationally.
While I understand the need to audit your own company issued products for software installations, should you be required to audit third party independent contractors? This is a subject of debate.
My opinion is as follows:
1. Independent contractors are "independent" for a reason. They use their own tools, set their own hours, license their own software, and their software compliance is their issue in my opinion.
2. Now, if you know a contractor is using pirated software for the benefit of your company, that can be a potential legal issue, but does this require you to audit them?
3. To me, Autodesk will typically have the right to audit them (assuming they have installed AutoCAD or Revit, for example and an audit clause exists, so I typically refuse to audit contractors.
This is general legal information only and not legal advice. If you need help responding to a demand for an Audit, call us for a free initial consultation. The audits can come from three different sources:
a. Autodesk internal (where they typically request you to run an AIT scan on all of your computers), in this scenario you are dealing with a team of IP lawyers;
b. A letter from Autodesk's law firm (Donahue Fitzgerald) where you are also dealing with extremely experienced copyright attorneys;
c. A demand letter from the Business Software Alliance ("BSA") which has Autodesk as a member. These cases also involve dealing with experienced technology and software law firms regionally and the monetary stakes can be VERY HIGH.
Things to keep in mind if you received the "love letter" from the Business Software Alliance ("BSA"), or Autodesk itself
If you're like most software users, the thought of an audit from the Business Software Alliance (BSA) or another organization can be intimidating. But there are ways to handle an audit calmly and confidently. The first step is to understand your rights and obligations. You should know what software is installed on all of your computers, and you should have documentation to show that you own legitimate licenses for that software. If you're not sure about your licensing compliance, it's a good idea to consult with an attorney or other expert before the audit begins. Once the audit starts, it's important to be cooperative and honest with the auditors. However, you should also exercise your right to review any evidence they collect and challenge any questions they ask. With proper preparation and a calm demeanor, you can successfully navigate an Autodesk software audit.
Contact a Software Audit Defense Attorney
Our firm is a clear leader in the United States in defending companies large and small in software audits. We have literally settled HUNDREDS of audit cases and helped our clients navigate sensitive legal issues presented due to the complexities of software licensing laws and complicated EULA's (not to mention failure of software publishers to mitigate the issue in my opinion). When the "love letter" surfaces, call us to discuss your case. Many times Vondran Legal® will be referred by corporate counsel, or even other attorneys who do not know the nuances of copyright law and software licensing negotiation. We can be reached at (877) 276-5084 or email us through our contact form.