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Shrinking IT budgets, fierce competition and a mature software market have increased the motivation for software publishers (such as Microsoft Corp., Adobe Systems Inc., Oracle) to conduct software licensingaudits — investigating their customers to determine if they have purchased enough licenses.

Software audits can either be initiated by the software publishers themselves or via their trade associations, such as the Business Software Alliance or the Software and Information Industry Association. Although these groups have no independent regulatory or enforcement authority, publishers have granted them a power of attorney to pursue copyright infringement claims on their behalf.

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