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Software Business Alliance - Frequently asked questions about the software business alliance

companies audit law information

What is the software business alliance and how do they affect my small business or company?

The Software Business Alliance is an organization that you will not want to hear of if you are a small business owner. While they do not actually possess any powers of law enforcement authority, members of the software business alliance are among the largest companies that publish or distribute software not just in the United States, but all over the world. Some of the most notable software publishing companies that claim membership in the software business alliance include Microsoft, Symantec, Adobe, Macromedia, Network Associates, and Autodesk. Each of these software publishing companies forms an agreement with the software business alliance where they provide it with a power of attorney to represent them in certain situations. As a result, the software business of alliance can invoke the names of these companies when accusing a company or business of software piracy. The alliance is restricted to enforcing solely the rights of its member software publishing companies. The legal grounds for their accusations are based in the contractual relationships software publishing companies form with customers and clients based on the software licenses they write into software agreements, as well as the copyright laws in different countries that give the copyright holders protection against copyright infringement. The enforcement department of the software business alliance focuses on protecting these rights.

What authority does the software business alliance have in terms of conducting an audit on my business or levying fines against my company?

Technically, the software business does not possess any powers of law enforcement authority on its own. Instead, it derives its rights from the power of attorney that its member software publishing companies provide it with. As described above, these companies themselves have certain rights that exist due to copyright law as well as due to their software licensing agreements.

What might happen if I ignore letters and information from the software business alliance or its attorneys?

It is not a good idea to ignore letters and information from the software business alliance or its legal team, as the alliance receives a significant amount of funding from its member software companies and was designed from the ground up to be a very aggressive industry trade group. If you attempt to ignore their communications and the problem itself by refusing to respond to their allegations, the severity of the problem will likely increase, and the software business alliance may end up instituting litigation, or filing a lawsuit, against you, your business, or both.

Which options do I have regarding compliance with the self audit the software business alliance requests of my business or company?

If you want to conduct a self audit, you have three basic options. The first is to conduct the self audit independently through use of your own internal computer technology or software staff. The second is to retain the outside services of an information technology vendor. The third is to retain the outside services of a law firm with experience in copyright situations and cases involving the software business alliance.

What are the advantages of having an experienced law firm conduct the software audit for my business or company?

The primary advantage you obtain when you choose to have your software audit conducted by an experienced law firm or attorney service is that unlike internally conducted self audits and audits conducted by information technology vendors, audits conducted by attorneys have full protection by both the attorney client privilege and the attorney work product privilege. As a result, the information derived as a result of the software audit is protected from being disclosed publicly, and the software business alliance will not be able to use this information against either you or your business in a court of law due to these privileges.

I have just received a letter from the software business alliance and I am trying to purchase the software licenses I am missing right now; will this change what happens next?

Unfortunately, you will not receive any credit from the software business alliance for any software licenses that you purchase after the audit letter is received, and will probably continue to pursue you.

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