Software piracy: Hype versus reality
David Becker Aug 03 2004
If you don't know what the Business Software Alliance is, consider
Q: What's Microsoft role in the BSA--some IT folks refer to you as "the
A: That's an unfortunate perception. We have 13 global members now and
every one of them, from my perspective and the perspective of the BSA
staff, is equally important ..
[Q:] Yet I've heard allegations from some IT buyers of Microsoft
salespeople using the threat of a BSA audit to get customers to upgrade.
We take very seriously what we're doing here. It's a good thing to keep
in mind that our companies are not in the business of antipiracy. ..
[Q:] You've come under some criticism for the allegedly inflated figures
in your latest piracy survey. What's your response?
Once again, people are trying to create something that's not there.
We've been doing this study for at least 10 years, and the only thing
that's different about the study this year is that it's more
[Q:] Let me share with you some of the criticism I've heard about the
way the BSA conducts audits, starting with the idea that it's hardly
ever a private thing. The BSA wants to publicize the outcome, and
there's a degree of embarrassment for the company involved.
As I said earlier, even our enforcement program is aimed at raising
awareness. Unless we make known that we exist and we are doing these
enforcement actions, it's hard to imagine how we could perform that
[Q:] There's also a perception of audits used as harassment--you've made
a point of letting it be known that disgruntled ex-employees are a good
source of leads.
We receive thousands of leads a year, and we take action on less than
half of them. ..
[Q:] There have also been complaints that the BSA doesn't really
distinguish between sloppy record-keeping and actively setting out to
illegally copy software--if you can't produce a license, you're guilty.
We recognize there are situations where the problem is one of
record-keeping, and we work with the company on that basis ..
[Q:] Let's say I'm an IT manager at a small business, and I've got 27
projects vying for my attention. Why should auditing and keeping track
of software licenses be a priority?
Unfortunately, there are a lot of issues out there, to the point where
software-licensing compliance often drops off the corporate checklist.
It's important for us to break through some of that noise with examples
of what it might cost a company if they don't manage their licenses.
So is your advice to just make tracking licenses part of somebody's job?
Absolutely. Most of the companies we end up contacting are not bad
companies. They do most things right; they're honest companies. They
just need to treat this issue more seriously ...
||8/3/2004 3:55:07 PM