Business Software Alliance Shops for Whistleblowers in Chicago - Scott & Scott, LLP Says Small to Mid-Size Companies Most at Risk

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BSA | The Software Alliance uses radio ads in Chicago for confidential piracy tips in exchange for potential cash rewards. The Chicago market had the fifth highest number of nationwide radio spots of three monitored radio campaigns according to media research company, Adscope™. Intellectual property and technology law firm, Scott & Scott, LLP, with a practice area focus on software license defense, says small to mid-size Chicago companies are most at risk of becoming a BSA target.

Robert J. Scott, Managing Partner, Scott & Scott, LLP

The Business Software Alliance usually targets small to mid-size companies.

Texas-based intellectual property and technology law firm Scott & Scott, LLP, reports that BSA | The Software Alliance has been running multiple ads on Chicago radio stations offering informants, usually disgruntled employees, potential cash rewards for anonymous software piracy tips. According to media research firm, Adscope™, Chicago had the fifth highest number of radio spots nationwide of three monitored campaigns.

BSA | The Software Alliance, a global software industry trade association owned and funded by big name companies, including Microsoft, Adobe, Symantec, and Autodesk, conducts copyright enforcement actions on behalf of its members.

“In my opinion, the informant often is the same person responsible for software compliance at the company they are reporting”, said Robert J. Scott, Managing Partner of Scott & Scott, LLP. That fact, coupled with the promise not to disclose the informant’s identity leads the Texas-based intellectual property and technology law firm to believe that the BSA is incentivizing non-compliance to generate revenue in a time that software sales are declining, and significantly damages the organizations credibility.

Generally, the BSA targets small to mid-size companies. “Companies that think they are “too big” or “too small” to hear from the Business Software Alliance are mistaken. Our firm has defended more than 300 companies across the U.S. and Canada against allegations of software piracy. Clients have ranged from a one person lumber shop in South Dakota to companies with thousands of employees”, continued Scott. Software license compliance can cost large enterprises millions of dollars, smaller enterprises often face even greater costs as a percentage of revenue.

The Business Software Alliance usually initiates an investigation after it receives a confidential report of unauthorized software use. Targeted companies are contacted by the BSA’s attorneys, who request that the company conduct a self audit and report the results. Companies targeted for audit are not required to cooperate with trade associations or publishers, but resolution without litigation is highly unlikely unless the target company agrees to participate in a voluntary audit. “We usually recommend cooperation and not litigation”, said Scott.

Chicago companies should avoid these two common mistakes when they receive a BSA letter:
(a) Purchase additional software.
The date of the first letter is the “effective date” and they will not generally credit any licenses purchased after that date.

(b) Use of an inadequate tool to conduct the audit.
The BSA often suggests a number of tools to assist with a self-audit, many available for little or no licensing fee, making them appear to be attractive alternatives. Because software tools are not sophisticated enough to discern between free trial software or remnants from previous installations and full installations, it can result in significant consequences. Before submitting any information, look for any mistakes in the audit results to ensure that the report reflects what was installed as of the effective date of the audit.

Additional helpful information can be found at

About Scott & Scott, LLP ( ( ( is a leading law and technology services firm representing businesses in matters involving software licensing. Scott & Scott’s legal and technology professionals provide software audit defense and software compliance solutions, all protected by attorney-client and work-product privileges.

Robert Scott, a recognized expert on software compliance and defense, is available for interviews.

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