Is Your Software Legal?

If not, an organisation called The Software Alliance (BSA) may be contacting you.
The BSA is a trade group representing the rights of major software providers such as Microsoft, Apple, McAfee and Adobe. One of their tasks involves finding companies that do not have the correct licensing for their software.
There are two significant points to take into account about this. The first is that many software products, such as those provided by Microsoft, aren’t actually purchased by you, they are licensed. This gives the software owner certain rights, such as ownership and tracking.
Secondly, the license is only legal if purchased from a licensed official reseller. So if you bought a copy of Microsoft Office from Ebay for example, it might not be legal. The same could happen if you purchased or used a computer with software already on it (such as second-hand or a company device that had a previous user) as you might not know where the software originally came from.
You may also find yourself in possession of illegal software if you have lost the product key or if end-users are able to install their own software without appropriate checks and authorisation.
A BSA investigation will mean you receive a spreadsheet of data held on you that you are then asked to check. This is where the licensing of software comes in because that’s how the providers know what you have.
If everything is legitimate and legal, then you will be fine but still have to go through the checking process. If you don’t respond or anything is found, they can take legal action against you for software piracy and theft on behalf of the software providers.
There are two ways to ensure that you stay on the right side of the law.

  1. Only buy software from official licensed resellers.
  2. If there is a chance that you may have software which might not be entirely legitimate, conduct a software audit. Microsoft provide a free tool that will help you do this, but it will also capture data on everything your computer does. Unless you trust Microsoft implicitly, we suggest purchasing software to do the audit that doesn’t involve sending data electronically to Microsoft.

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