How to respond to a software audit demand letter – print out this checklist and call for a FREE consultation (877) 276-5084. You can go it alone, but why would you?
Download our FREE sample checklist
Click on the SCRIBD logo below to download a copy of our audit checklist. There is no charge. This can serve as a good guide when you call us for your free consultation.
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BSA audit response video
2. SIIA audit response video
HELPFUL TIP: Clicking on the links will take you to our video library and to blogs that have answered many of the questions below. You have questions, we have answers!!!
Here are some of the main things to think about when your company gets a software audit letter from software trade associations such as the Software Information Industry Association (“SIIA”), Autodesk (usually dealing with their Autocad Software), Microsoft (ex. a SAM audit, license verification process, or sometimes a letter directly from Microsoft in-house counsel), or the Business Software Alliance (“BSA”). We can help you answer these questions and offer a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION by calling (877) 276-5084.
Usually, when companies call us, they are uncertain about a lot of things, and given the threats of $150,000 per infringed copyrighted work (as is typically set forth in the letter in no uncertain terms), many people are justifiably concerned about what could happen to them personally and to their businesses. The “software cops” or “software police” as some people call them, mean business when they send their letters, and crumpling it up, ignoring it, or tossing it in the trash in most cases will NOT make the issue go away. Usually, they have your company in their system and they will persist until they get a response. This does not mean there is an exception to this rule, its just that if you are using unlicensed software, and need it to run your business, you will likely have to find a way to resolve your dispute, and do this for the minimal amount possible. We have strategies designed to help you know your software rights and to help minimize your legal exposure.
Here is the BIGGEST single mistake you can make if you receive a software audit demand letter from the business software alliance or SIIA.
Checklist – key questions you should be asking and thinking about
1.� Who was the letter addressed to? Is it your company, or sometimes it is a “sister” company will be the one that has infringing software. How do you respond in this circumstance? Respond for one? Respond for both?
2.� Who does the sender of the letter represent? The BSA? SIIA? Software publisher (ex. Rosetta Stone, Minitab, Symantec, Apple, IBM, Oracle)?
3. What types of software programs are they seeking to audit? Is it just one line of software (ex. just Microsoft products)? Or multiple products (which can occur with SIIA and BSA).
4. Is there a way to get the intellectual property lawyer that sent you the letter to LIMIT THE SCOPE OF THE AUDIT?
5. Is there a deadline to respond to the audit? Can this be extended?
6. Do you need a copyright lawyer to represent you?
7.� Is there a way to ensure that the audit results will be held STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL?
8. Will the software company issue a press release calling your company a “software pirate?”
9. What are the penalties for software infringement? $150,000 per work/title?
10. � What do the software companies consider to be “willful copyright infringement?”
11. Will there be any criminal penalties for software theft or prosecutions if your company has NO licenses or severe and widespread licensing shortages?
12. How did the BSA, SIIA, Microsoft or Autodesk (or some other publisher) find out about my company?
13. Is there a way to SUE THE INFORMANT if they are committing acts of defamation, corporate espionage, extortion, or breach of contract (ex. employment contract, severance agreement, violating company policy, trade secret theft, etc.)
14. Are informants motivated a reward (and if so, how might this affect the credibility of the information they provided)?
15. Will the software company expose the name and identity of the informant?
16. Is the informant protected by whistleblower laws?
17. What is the best way to negotiate your case?
18. What happens if the software publisher or their lawyers will not settle? Will a lawsuit be filed?
19. Can I file bankruptcy to avoid a copyright judgment against my company?
20. What do you do if you are asked to participate in a Microsoft SAM audit or license verification process while dealing with a simultaneous audit from another company (i.e. being “double teamed”)?
21. Is it ever possible that officer and directors of the company accused of being a software infringer can face civil or criminal liability? If so, under what circumstances?
22. How long will the software audit process last?
23. If we are 100% the request for a software audit is COMPLETELY BOGUS what recourse does our business have to make this go away?
24. What is the process for filling out the audit worksheet?
25. Will my insurance company be obligated to pay the costs and damages?
NOTE: We offer low flat rate legal fees to help make this a “no-brainer.” You should concentrate on your business while we take care of your software compliance problems.
27. What are the main defenses to a software audit / licensing shortage case?
28. What do I do if I am handling the case on my own and a they are tape recording my phone calls?
29. Will our audit be protected by attorney-client privilege or work product privilege?
30. Will the software company be able to shut down our business or conduct a software raid?
32. What will happen if we destroy the evidence and just buy new software to replace the infringing software.
FOR OUR CLIENTS AND POTENTIAL CLIENTS – Is there anything else you think might be important for us to know. Gather documentation and discuss with a software attorney. We handle federal copyright cases across the United States.
These are some of the important questions that can pop up when your business is facing a software audit. There are a lot of things to think about and as you can see, we have written blogs to address many of these topics. Do not hire a firm that cannot answer these questions, and BE AWARE there are many younger attorneys who simply hang out their shingle and do google ads to try to get new clients. Do not be fooled by the pop-up company that does not offer the breadth of experience we do, the verifiable results, and the demonstrated passion in this legal area. At the end of the day there is simply no substitute for experience.
Contact a federal copyright lawyer
We are a leader in the software audit legal business, call us at (877) 276-5084 for a free initial consultation.
As discussed above, we offer low predictable flat rate fees to make having copyright counsel affordable. They have IP attorneys on their side, you should be represented as well.
For more detailed information and answers to many of the above questions, simply navigate to www.SoftwareAuditLawyers.com for a WEATLH of information and resources.