Compliance & Enforcement

Compliance & Enforcement

What is Unlicensed Software?

Unlicensed software is unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted software. It includes downloading, sharing, selling, or installing multiple copies of licensed software. Unlicensed software use also includes license infringement – installing a piece of software more times than the license permits – as well as sharing software license codes, uploading software codes to websites so others can download and use it, sharing software license codes or activation keys, as well as user IDs and passwords for web-based software applications. 

Unlicensed software use is illegal and can result in both civil as well as criminal penalties. It exposes businesses and consumers to security threats including malware, ransomware, spyware and viruses, and leads to decreased efficiencies in organizations. Those who are aware of unlicensed software use at end-user organizations are encouraged to report it to BSA through our confidential online reporting site at

Who we are and what we do

BSA serves as the world’s leading compliance and enforcement organization. BSA champions intellectual property rights of software copyright holders and helps curb unlicensed software use through vigorous enforcement programs in over 60 countries.  BSA helps its members guard against illegal software use by taking legal action against commercial end-user license infringement and distribution of unlicensed software via the Internet as well.

BSA also educates organizations through its suite of software asset management (SAM) solutions. SAM Advantage is an online course aligned to the ISO/IEC19770-1 SAM standard designed to educate users on SAM best practices and how to proactively increase IT efficiencies and reduce risks. It is available in multiple languages and successful completion leads to a Verafirm Certification.

Verafirm Certified independently verifies whether an organization’s software asset management processes align with the ISO software asset management standard and are ultimately license compliant.

Additionally, BSA sponsors the Verafirm Registry, an industry-supported portal that helps companies effectively manage their software licenses and installed user base. It is the first and only software license management registry of its kind.