The Business Software Alliance (BSA) sometimes runs advertisements that encourages employees to report the use of unauthorized software in their workplace. This may be the single-biggest IT-related legal threat facing companies today. All it takes is one disgruntled employee, or one mischievous troublemaker to see someone running a program they brought in from home, and - BAM! The BSA is at your door or in your conference room talking about a settlement for intellectual property rights violations. IT directors do not want this to happen.
Enforcing policies out of fear is one thing, but some businesses want to do the right thing as a matter of principle. The bottom line is that IT personnel cannot police the licensing policies of employee software to make sure that it can be legally used at the office. Because of this, keeping unauthorized software off of the network is simply good business.
Another risk of having unauthorized software on networks is the possibility of illegal activity. For example, if an employee installs software on a computer that receives transmissions from their spouse's illegally-bugged computer, the company could potentially incur some liability issues should a case go to court.
Similarly, if employees are using the company's high speed DVD duplicators to illegally copy music, movies or software, the company could get in serious legal hot water.
Legal issues can also arise from unauthorized content on company networks. For example, employees may have legitimate sexual harassment complaints if pornography is visible in the office by other employees. Additionally, accessing pirated music, movie and software sites could get your company slapped with criminal and civil charges.