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Global Internet Enforcement Program

Online software infringement is an evolving and complex problem that both exposes users to a host of unacceptable risks, and negatively impacts the companies that develop and manufacture software by diverting significant amounts of money away from legitimate corporate revenue — and ultimately the economy — to the coffers of bad actors and criminal elements.

The fight against intellectual property theft is dynamic. As internet use and accessibility increases, so do the opportunities and challenges associated with it — including the rise in internet-based violations.

For more than two decades, BSA | The Software Alliance (BSA) has led the software industry in protecting intellectual property rights and combating the illegal distribution of software across the globe.

Through its Global Internet Enforcement Program, BSA leverages its diverse top-tier membership, existing partnerships with governments and law enforcement, and deep investigative expertise to mount an ever-evolving and widely trusted effort to effectively decrease the amount of infringing software available at a domestic and international level.

Illegal Distribution of Software Online — Problem to Solution

The Problem

  • Software is distributed without a valid license.
  • Software security is compromised, and the program broken into, so that it may be illegally replicated, raising the possibility that consumers may unwittingly purchase non-genuine, unsupported copies.

The Method

Infringing software is distributed through multiple channels:

  1. Web Distribution: offers software through file-sharing networks such as bit torrent, direct download sites such as cyber lockers, dedicated websites and social media sites.
  2. Online Marketplaces and Auction Sites: including global and regional marketplaces/auction sites (e.g., eBay), as well as small local city or provincial sites.

How It Affects You

As an individual software user, you are at risk of:

  • Vulnerability for your personal computer, as intrusive software increases exposure to future malicious exploits.
  • Malware infection due to installation of non-legitimate software, or infection by malware present on the site from which the unlicensed software is downloaded. This compromises the security of your computer, as well as your personal information and other sensitive data.
  • Identity theft and fraud, as sites offering non-legitimate software redirect to payment requests and other web pages seeking personal information.

As a company, you are at risk of:

  • Potential legal exposure for possessing/using infringing software on corporate systems, as well as reputational exposure.
  • System vulnerabilities where the cracked software is installed. In 2016 alone, there was an average of 200,000 security threats to an organization’s IT system every day.
  • Additional costs from cybercrime/system security breach clean-up. Cybercrime costs the global economy $445 billion annually; one successful cyberattack can cost a single organization $11 million on average.

How BSA Addresses the Problem

BSA’s Global Internet Enforcement Program works to proactively identify and remove unlicensed software products online. The program is dynamic, adapting in real-time to stay ahead of the constantly evolving nature of online infringement.

To do this, BSA’s industry-leading team of experts uses an online marketplace/auction tracking system and other proprietary technologies to monitor, investigate and enforce against the distribution of infringing software, wherever it may be found, and regardless of whether the software is business-to-consumer (B2C) facing, or business-to-business (B2B) facing. BSA also works directly with search engines, payment processors and the online platforms where substantial amounts of infringement are found — strategically addressing the problem through collaborative relationships — as well as with law enforcement and governmental organizations in numerous markets around the world.

How Does BSA Do This?

Find the problem:

  • BSA monitors online marketplaces and auctions, and various methods of web distribution (E-commerce websites, online file-sharing networks, etc.) to identify infringing software.
  • BSA receives tips and leads from both its members and the public, through email, BSA-hosted web forms, the No-piracy.org website and other available online notification options.

Remove infringing software:

  • BSA enforces by using the Federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown provisions (as well as similar mechanisms for removing infringing content in countries/regions outside the United States), seeking removal of the infringing content. BSA then monitors compliance with these requests.

Escalation Process:

  • If the content is not removed, and sellers continue to distribute infringing software, BSA may take additional steps to escalate and resolve, including:
    1. Sending Cease and Desist notices to repeat infringers and their host ISPs.
    2. Working with the hosting platform to permanently remove seller accounts.
    3. Making the content harder to find by delisting the seller from popular search engines.
    4. Removing the payment mechanisms upon which sellers rely to sell their software.
    5. Initiating formal investigations and legal action against non-compliant, high-volume repeat infringers, as well as making referrals to law enforcement for criminal prosecution.