This is the second in the series:
IP TIP #2: YOUR EMPLOYEES AND EX-EMPLOYEES MAY BE OUT TO GET YOU:
Do you have employees - or better yet disgruntled ex-employees - who might be tempted to turn you in for a million dollar reward? If so, the Business Software Alliance ("BSA") has for several years been offering "rewards" of "up to" $1 million to anyone who turns in a business that is using software that is not properly licensed. [The BSA is a trade association made up of a few little companies like Apple, Microsoft, Symantec, Adobe and about 10 others].
And what does the BSA consider to be "not properly licensed"? Even if you purchased the software you are using legitimately, if you haven't kept the proofs of purchase, receipts, etc., then as far as the BSA is concerned you are guilty of copyright infringement and subject to financial damages of up to $150,000 per infringement. The BSA also considers Microsoft Office to be five (5) separate programs, so if you have an unauthorized copy of Office the BSA claims you are liable for up to $750,000 in damages.
The BSA has been very successful in scaring businesses into paying huge sums of money to avoid a lawsuit. The irony is that sometimes the BSA extracts financial settlements from businesses that exceed what the damages would be if the business went to court and then worked out a court-supervised settlement with the BSA.
Forewarned is forearmed. We have helped several businesses negotiate resolutions of these kinds of disputes with the BSA.