Overview of SIIA software audits and copyright infringement allegations!
What does the SIIA stand for?
The SIIA stands for the Software & Information Industry Association. The SIIA is a trade association for software companies (not a law enforcement agency as some business owners might think) and digital content industry and one of their goals is to protect and enforce the intellectual property rights of its members, specifically copyrights! Some of the different types of content they might seek to protect are books, magazines, software and newspaper articles.
Don't throw away that SIIA audit letter!
Some small businesses, such as architects, engineers, medical billing companies, media companies, software designers and others feel tempted to simply discard or ignore the letter they receive from trade organizations such as the BSA or SIIA, but this can prove to be a costly mistake. Some clients have told us “I thought this was an internet scam.” While we have seen this as well (fake “software compliance companies”), if you received a letter from one of the following law firm, you can be assured they are legitimate intellectual property law firms, and you should not shred the correspondence
- Venable LLP
- Donahue Fitzgerald
- Weir Johnson
- Troutman Sanders
- Klemchuk LLP
- Saul Ewing
- FDK Law
- Sullivan and Worcester
- Warner Law Group
Watch Attorney Steve explain the SIIA in this video!
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Which companies have members on the Board of Directors?
Here are a list of some of the main companies that have representatives on the Board of Directors of the SIIA:
1. Adobe (common products at issue are photoshop, acrobat, illustrator, dreamweaver, after effects, audition, flash builder, scout, photoshop, captivate, premier pro, etc.)
5. McGraw-Hill Education
6. Google, Inc
7. Intuit, Inc.
9. EPG Media & Speciality Information
This list needs to be checked for currency.
How is the SIIA different from the BSA?
The BSA stands for the Business Software Alliance, and opposed to the SIIA, you will find mostly software companies as opposed to digital content providers who are members oh the BSA. However, one thing you will find in common is both organizations are serious about protecting and enforcing their intellectual property rights, including most importantly their COPYRIGHTS!!!
Click here to watch a VIDEO powerpoint about the SIIACan I get a reward for reporting software piracy to the SIIA?
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Yes. Here is their online software piracy reporting form. They have a program designed to incentivize employees or ex-employees to turn in their boss, or nail their boss. While it is a question whether or not software licensing informants can be sued, it is also a question whether or not they are protected by whistleblower laws.
Suffice it to say there are many informants we have seen who are disgruntled and willing to burn their current or ex-boss while also trying to get a monetary bonus for doing so. Here is some information about the “content piracy reward program.” In a tough economy, lots of IT professionals, contractors, and SAM directors are willing to take a shot at reporting their company and trying to recover a monetary award for doing so.
This is one reason when handling SIIA audits or BSA audits we look so closely at the person who is reporting the software usage and licensing shortages to see if they have breached company policies, non-disclosure agreements or violated trade secret agreements.
In fact, on at least one occasion we have noted that the informant himself is the one that installed the software on his or her way out the door, and then immediately went to the licensing associations to try to “shake down” their ex-company. This situation needs to be closely examined and defended vigorously.
Here is a link to the SIIA piracy reporting page. As you can see, they offer very generous rewards for trying to come forward and expose intellectual property infringement. If the BSA or its attorneys can settle a software infringement case for over 20 million, the informant can basically “hit the lotto” and be entitled to up to ONE MILLION DOLLARS from the SIIA. This is one reason the business of tracking down “software pirates” has such appeal.
We have handled many software audit cases with law firms such as Donahue-Fitzgerald, Weir-Johnson, The Venable, Cooper Cohen Braunfeld. If you get a letter from any of these or other law firms, I would not recommend trying to handle this on your own. While you can, we have discussed in many different blogs and videos the dangers of doing so. These firms and their intellectual property lawyers are experienced negotiators with lawyers trained in this area. Call us at the number below, or fill out the form to have one of our software audit lawyers call you to discuss what we can do to help you resolve the matter.
If I am an informant is there anything I should know before reporting software violations in search of a financial reward?
Yes, here are a few things I would point out.
1. Make sure you are NOT the one that installed the software (ex. Microsoft, Adobe, Autodesk, etc.), if you installed the software for financial gain you are committing sabotage and you could be brought into the lawsuit and named as a Defendant and YOU could be the party who ends up paying for the settlement.
2. Be sure that you were not fired for wrongful grounds, such as surfing pornography on company time, or engaging in a hate-crime on facebook, yelp or other social media networks.
3. Make sure by coming forward to report software piracy that you are not breaching a confidential settlement agreement between you and the company you left behind, for this could pull you into the lawsuit as a Cross-Defendants.
These are just a few things to consider when you are ready to go on the attack as a software “informant.”
While it is our experience that the name and identity will try to remain “confidential” in the event a federal copyright lawsuit ensues, there is no guarantee you will be kept out of the lawsuit. As their FAQ's on their website indicates they will not reveal your name “unless we are required to by a law enforcement authority or a Court.” When you get into the business of trying to take-down a company, just realize somebody may get into the business of exposing wrong-doing on your end.
Before you “take a stand” against piracy, make sure you “take a close look at your dealings with the company.” In many cases employees are terminated for good cause, and while the company may have originally allowed the employees transgressions to be swept under the rug, the gloves may be coming off for reporting software shortages, especially if it was the informant who “planted” the illegal software, downloaded it from internet websites such as or other file sharing websites.
Two common software piracy defenses
Here are two copyright infringement defenses that can arise in a case. These come from Adobe Sys. Inc. v. Norwood, No. C 10-03564 SI, 2011 WL 2650945, at *3 (N.D. Cal. July 6, 2011). In this case, the Northern District Court (which covers the Bay area, silicon valley, oakland, san jose, sacramento, etc.) stated:
A. Copyright Misuse Copyright misuse, which is nearly always regarded as a defense, “forbids a copyright holder from securing an exclusive right or limited monopoly not granted by the Copyright Office” by preventing “copyright holders from leveraging their limited monopoly to allow them control of areas outside the monopoly.” A & M Records, Inc. v. Napster, Inc., 239 F.3d 1004, 1026 (9th Cir.2001) (internal quotation marks and alteration marks omitted). Here, Norwood alleges that Adobe and SIIA have attempted to control the resale of Adobe's software products beyond their first sale in contravention of the first sale doctrine. B. First Sale Doctrine The first sale doctrine “permits one who has acquired ownership of a copy to dispose of that copy without the permission of the copyright owner.” UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Augusto, 628 F.3d 1175, 1177 (9th Cir.2011) (citing 17 U.S.C. § 109(a)). However, the doctrine “does not apply to a person who possesses a copy of the copyrighted work without owning it, such as a licensee.” Vernon v. Autodesk, Inc., 621 F.3d 1102, 1107 (9th Cir.2010) (citing 17 U.S.C. § 109(d)). “[A] software user is a licensee rather than an owner of a copy where the copyright owner (1) specifies that the user is granted a license; (2) significantly restricts the user's ability to transfer the software; and (3) imposes notable use restrictions.” MORE INFORMATION: These are just a couple of defenses to look at if the SIIA forces you into a voluntary self audit. There are many other common defenses to a software audit, that you should take a look at, especially if you are facing a software audit or copyright infringement lawsuit.
Can you make money reporting your employer as a software pirate?
PODCAST: Click on the image above to hear Attorney Steve talk more about the SIIA policy in regard to collecting on software piracy.
SIIA in the News
1. SIIA Symantec Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Settles 2. Copyright dismissal but no attorney fee award 3. SIIA suing eBay sellers [many suits being filed in Northern District Court of California]. These cases are known as Software Auction Piracy Cases. 4. Copyright on Campus 5. SIIA anti-piracy reward program
Contact our software audit law firm
We can help you if you have received a “self-audit,” cease and desist, or copyright infringement letter from the SIIA or its law firms. We can help identify your software license shortages, seek confidentiality to the extent permissible under FRCP 408 and help you negotiate a fair deal when settlement becomes the best option. We can help with the following software publishers – Autodesk, Microsoft, Adobe, Rosetta Stone, Oracle, IBM and others. Call (877) 276-5084 for a free confidential discussion with one of our software lawyers. You will need to send us the letter you received from the auditing entity or their IP lawyers in order to schedule the call.
Have one of our copyright lawyers contact you
You can also fill out the contact form below to have one of our IP lawyers call you to discuss, usually within the hour. Please make sure to leave your phone number. We have very affordable and flexible legal fees so it makes sense to hire us instead of trying to do it yourself, which can lead to many problems including but not limited to officer and director liability and claims or willful copyright infringement that can seriously injure the average company. These are serious legal matters that require serious attention and dedicated copyright counsel.