Building a solid reputation for your company takes years of good customer service, a great product, and making sure you don’t miss a beat at the wrong time. But there are many great companies who make just one mistake that follows them around forever.

Often, the internal decision to use a pirated or unlicensed software instead of paying for a license comes down to budget. Paying a large amount of money for software that you’re only going to use once or twice can really affect your bottom line. But, what if you get caught?

Your Reputation is On the Line

When you get caught using pirated software and an investigation into your activities is opened, your name will hit the news. Even if the allegations are later proved false, your name will remained smeared in Google search results until Google decides otherwise (which is potentially never). Now, anytime a potential employer, client, friend or family searches for your name, your mistakes will be front and center.

The Reputation of Your Company Is, Too

“With the proliferation of devices and ease of downloads, not to mention the unnecessary complexity of software-license agreements, you can imagine how simple it can be for companies to have unlicensed software in use by employees, without their knowledge”. TechCrunch

In the example above, Dr Wronald Best is individually named and his reputation is dragged through the mud again and again. But so is MPD Inc., the company who had hired him. As a company, you are not exempt from the misuse of software by your employees or contractors and it is absolutely essential that you ensure they are using licensed software.

Protect Your Software From Getting Hacked

Using pirated or cracked software in the development of your products adds the risk of errors or vulnerabilities in the final version of your programs and products. It also increases the chances of your network getting hacked and your products or programs not functioning as they should. If your programs have errors, if data from your organization is breeched, or if your programs start distributing malware, it’s your reputation that’s going to suffer. Large hacks are not quickly forgotten.

It’s Your Legal Responsibility

Using unlicensed, pirated, or stolen software to complete your projects may be a breach of agreement for your contracts. This is a legal infraction that can lead to lengthy, costly, and reputation damaging lawsuits.

Software Compliance Audits

Internal software audits can be difficult and time consuming, but they can also save a lot of headaches and money down the road when you are forced into an external software audit. A 2013 study revealed that more than half of large North American companies have faced software audits within the last two years. Using a software asset management (SAM) system that monitors actual software usage enables companies to take a proactive approach to their software licensing compliance and reporting.

Even if you are just working on a small project, if you’re hiring a one-time consultant, or if you bought 150 licenses but really needed 175, ensuring that all parties are using licensed software can save you potentially millions of dollars, hours of time spent in litigation, and perhaps even more importantly, keep your brand reputation clear of some unfavorable Google search results.