Ultimately, the goal is to get the company to own up to the possession of whatever software it may be using illegally, agree to a financial settlement based on the retail price of the unlicensed software, and promise to comply with all licensing and copyright laws going forward -- all without litigation.
"Our goal is to work with companies collaboratively, not go to court," Blank explains. "There's a good reason. From a bang-for-the-buck perspective, I can sue two companies for the same amount of money I can do 20 audits. [Through audits] I can reach more companies and achieve more compliance. It's also cheaper for BSA and for the company defending itself."
Last year, the BSA received more than 2,500 informant leads, requested 920 audits, pursued one case in court and collected $9.5 million from settlements.
But the organization can and will take noncompliant companies to court. In June 2008, the BSA filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Taney Engineering Inc. and Taney Cunningham Equipment LLC of Henderson, Nev., after the civil engineering company presented the BSA with an audit report whose findings varied significantly from the information provided by a confidential informant.
Unable to resolve the dispute during the audit process, the BSA filed a lawsuit and court proceedings began. Ultimately, however, Taney did reach a settlement with the group, which collected $205,000 in damages from the company.
"It probably would have been cheaper if they had just settled with us in the first place," says Blank.