Unlike other tools offered by the BSA, the compliance check hooks into the back-end systems operated by Adobe, Autodesk, Microsoft and Symantec so that SMEs can see their registered and active software licences with those four companies. Software licence management often "falls by the wayside" especially within SMEs, so businesses may not know exactly what they've paid for.
The Perth pilot will involve companies in the architecture, construction, engineering, creative and automotive industries - these segments were selected largely at the behest of Adobe and Autodesk, which both supply software widely used in those markets such as Photoshop and AutoCAD. And since such businesses typically rely on copyright to protect their products, they can hardly complain when software companies do the same.
Mr Noble said anyone receiving a letter about the pilot can decide whether or not to participate, but any licensing shortfalls detected by businesses that do complete the check will be considered unintentional and they will be given the choice of deleting any unlicensed copies or purchasing additional licences.
Damages will not be sought from any business that gets back into compliance, but that's the only undertaking made about the use of the data collected by the program. "It's not a means of fishing for leads for investigation or litigation," Mr Noble said, but would not guarantee that information entered into the system would not be used to the detriment of the company involved.
Page 2: some protection against malicious use of the system.
"It's a one stop shop for people to go through the process with four software companies at once," he said, adding that businesses that "get legal" after completing the check or which turn out to be already fully licensed will not be approached again under the individual vendors' software asset management campaigns, at least not in the near future.
A similar program in the UK "had quite a bit of success," he added, explaining that "customers found it convenient" especially if they had not kept good records. The expectation is that the Australian program will be "a spur to action to SMEs that don't have good control over their software assets."