back to article BSA urges London companies to check for pirate software

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) has written to more than 1,000 companies in London, asking them to complete a software audit as part of a two-month campaign against software piracy. London is responsible for more reports of software piracy than any other place in the UK, with one in five pieces of software in the capital …

COMMENTS

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  1. Dave
    Jobs Horns

    I AM THE LAW

    Errr actually, No I'm not. So how can the BSA, with no enforcement abilities (AFAIK), persuade companies to do auditing, to condemn themselves.

    Silly people

  2. Richard Porter
    Linux

    "... ensure their software licensing is up to scratch"

    Alternatively scrap expensive proprietary software and switch to open source.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Let me guess...

    ...those that don't fill out the surevey get a knock on the door..

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Perhaps...

    Perhaps as part of this audit they could also see if there are cheaper alternative (free/open source?) packages instead which would resolve the need for this kind of audit?

  5. voshkin
    Flame

    Fonts?

    Since when are fonts "software"?

    fonts are vector graphics, collection of shapes - very much like clipart.

    so how does that make it a software????

    - it's the same as saying that a copyrighted photograph is software...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    How to handle

    I remember one of these some years back. My reaction was to take offence that someone would think they had the right to ask what was going on inside our company. My second thought was to realise that refusing their request would lead to guilt by association. Ignoring it might do the same. I should point out that most of our software was properly licensed (with the exception of some lunchtime Quake / Unreal installs - which gives you an idea of when this was!).

    My final idea was to ignore it for a while until chased, then apologise but refer to our (probably real) company privacy policy prohibiting outside entities from any knowledge of our systems. As we were doing work for a particularly paranoid government agency this wasn't so far from the truth.

    Unfortunately I left before finding out how they reacted, but if I was in the same position again that's how I would respond.

  7. P Saunders
    Paris Hilton

    Don't waste money on unplanned purchases of legitimate software

    Can it altogether and switch to open source.

    Paris, 'cause she's open to all kinds of things.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh yes...

    It's a credit crunch, recession etc etc... I really need to piss my boss off right now!

    Okay, what do we have...

    One NT4 small business server *tick*

    And 273 Linux desktops running open office.

    Okay, that'll do.

  9. Dave Stark

    Hmmmm.

    In the words of Elton John in 'Star Stories':

    Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck Oooooooooooooooooff.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Open Office Unbuntu

    And if you don't want to endlessly be harassed by the BSA like this, avoid using their clients overpriced bloatware.

    The right for the BSA to go raid you, you signed when you sign those Microsoft licenses, foolish you. So now they expect you to spend money on man hours to list every piece of software in your business and prove the licenses for those.

    Failure to do so and they'll come visit, taking up your valuable time anyway.

  11. Darryl Parvin

    The order

    Microsoft claims to the public that it's preferred ranking for customer software would be:

    1. MS software

    2. Apple Software

    3. Pirated software

    but in reality they much prefer

    1. MS software

    2. Pirated software

    3. Apple software

    If they wanted to eliminate pirated software they could. But it would damage their profits.

  12. r
    Happy

    Here's a suggestion...

    "London’s businesses cannot afford to waste money on legal actions". So how about the BSA doing their part and not starting any?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    They can stick it where the sun doesn't shine.

    I'm breaking no law and am not obliged to prove it to anybody, least of all an organisation which has no statutory powers.

    If they think they can prove it, they're welcome to waste their own time and money, not mine.

    This is a blatant fishing expedition.

  14. Cameron Colley

    RE: Open Office Unbuntu

    Indeed -- if you're at all bothered about this then you have nobody to blame but yourself.

    When buying proprietary software it's as well to take into account the costs of ensuring you have the correct number of licenses and being able to prove it.

    I'll not go as far as some above have and suggest that Linux/GNU/Whatever _is_ the answer -- but I have no sympathy for anyone who this affects adversely.

  15. Happy Skeptic
    Stop

    Illogical

    "The right for the BSA to go raid you, you signed when you sign those Microsoft licenses, foolish you. So now they expect you to spend money on man hours to list every piece of software in your business and prove the licenses for those.

    Failure to do so and they'll come visit, taking up your valuable time anyway."

    So then logically if you have pirated your software the BSA has no legal right to audit you as you've never signed/agreed to the crazy 'EULAs' that come with commercial SW.

  16. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    If the BSA annoy you, remove their funding

    http://news.cnet.com/2008-1082_3-5065859.html?tag=lh

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old software?

    I'm curious about this line: "The current downturn in the economy does not negate the need for businesses to keep the software they are using up-to-date and legal." Is this them suggesting that I shouldn't use older software? To mix a threat about licencing with the software being up-to-date - it clearly doesn't mention the licence being up-to-date - seems a bit odd.

    The let's all go Linux/open-source doesn't work everywhere though as we're still in the situation where you may need a piece of software to work with others (the one that springs to mind is a company we work with using MS Project, but we have to ask for all project plans in PDF). I guess where there software requirements are limited, such as in call centres or courier firms (I always notice Initial City Link run Linux terminals in the depot), it's feasible.

    My own take is that if you can avoid putting Windows on any servers, and thereby avoid CALs and all the licencing rubbish that goes with, you'll save a lot of time and money and the users can still do everything they need to with Windows on the desktop. As real work-flow oriented web apps - such as for call centres and couriers - permeate companies and facilitate more of a work-anywhere ethos, the requirements for office suites will reduce so that other suites may be a really good replacement. This could even give us a competitive software marketplace again, and that can only be a good thing.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ I AM THE LAW

    BSA rarely do the enforcement themselves, they use good old Trading Standards. By doing so they are protected against any recourse should a visit and inspection turn out to be caused maliciously i.e. a disgrunted employee tells the BSA some porkies about you having a warez copy of photoshop on every machine, the BSA tell Trading Standards, Trading Standards then come and confiscate all your hardware for a month and find nothing. Action you can take against the BSA, nada. BSA just point to Trading Standards and say "not us" no compensation from us matey. Good luck trying to get anything from Trading Standards, they tend to be protected from litigation when their actions cause hardship during an investigation, even if it turns out to be a false alegation.

    BSA have for a long time used Trading Standards, however TS have recently admitted that they now have the powers to do so, without a complaint from a 3d party. I.e. they can just turn up now without a complaint and do an audit, just like health and safety can turn up and audit.

    http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2008/12/24/cardiff_standards/

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's up to the companies themselves...

    Easily sorted by all the companies concerned - if no-one cooperates then the whole thing is a non-starter. Everyone tells them to go to hell - end of problem. Might even help to estimate the cost of an audit and threaten to sue for it.

    This isn't actually about copyright - it's about jobsworths who need to get a life rather than posturing from within their ivory towers and exceeding their almost non-existent authority. Increasingly this country seems to be given over to such people. I suspect they're cloned in a factory somewhere. Under full copyright of course...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Up to date?

    So the BSA wants everybody "to keep the software they are using up-to-date and legal".

    I do understand the legal issue, but what is their point about keeping it up-to-date? I love my ancient pieces of software, they run and run and run ...

  21. Dave Harris
    Thumb Up

    @Old software? 12:21 GMT

    Try OpenProj, which is now run by Serena (used to be run by Projity, but both their site and the original openproj.org site are now GoDaddy parking pages). You can also find it on SourceForge:

    http://www.serena.com/products/openproj/

    http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=199315

    It also support MS Proj formats.

  22. Nick
    Joke

    Ross Kemp...

    I saw a trailer on one of the Sky channels the other day for a programme called 'Ross Kemp on Pirates'. Are the BSA employing the bald headed nutter now?

  23. Fatman Silver badge
    Flame

    Dealing with the B(ull)S(hitters)A(nonymous)

    In the US, communications between client and attorney are privileged communications.

    I have been told, that if you get one of those letters, you should consult an attorney ASAP. It is my understanding that you should have your attorney perform the audit, so that the details are considered privileged, and not subject to discovery by the BSA in the event they decide to sue you.

    AFAIAC, they (BSA) can go straight to hell!!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Happy Skeptic

    "So then logically if you have pirated your software the BSA has no legal right to audit you as you've never signed/agreed to the crazy 'EULAs' that come with commercial SW."

    You know that little radio button or 'accept' button you press when those 'annoying words' appear and the installer stops? That's the bit when you agree to the EULA. So no, the BSA can audit you. Except they can't because they are not a statutory authority. Still, if you've got nothing to hide, right?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Rastaman

    The PC software companies and the Licence enforcement bodies such as the BSA need to get receptive and connect with reality as to what’s happening on the street! As you will agree the world is constantly changing, and the 70’s software sales business model is archaic and confusing. It was born in an era where the software delivery was via floppy discs or tape. It has no place in today’s consumer led market that is educated and serviced by the internet.

    The most successful companies really understand their customers perceived worth of their product offering and tailor the price according to their customer’s ability to pay and the various competitive factors. Today consumer products and services can be acquired in the size relating to your needs and affordability. Yet software licences are still sold as a whole product irrespective of how heavy a user you are or how often you use it.

    Imagine if you were able or lease it on a monthly or even daily basis or pay for the hours you actually use it. This is not vapour ware as tool hire companies and DVD rentals do just that. Sure you will make less profit in the beginning, but the volume will grow at a pace to easily cover the revenue lost. It could also be very profitable business if its bill as per use.

    For too long the software industry has buried its head in the sand and hoped piracy will go away. Like the movie and music industry have found out, piracy changes the way they have had to deliver their product. The web has altered the dynamics. They could not battle with the free download of songs; hence the iTunes and other download stores were born and surprisingly found eager custom from users who did not want illegal content on their MP3 player. They also offered consumers the choice to purchase a single song from an album at a nominal cost. This was very different from you could only buy a single if it was released on hard copy. Again it was about serving the customer and not just your shareholders and internal agenda.

    Piracy will not disappear but grow as demand increases and more people get used to free applications. It will also get more sophisticated and the pirates will out market the legitimate channel with their offerings. They have yet to offer bundles and OEM choices. IDC please take note.

    Software companies have invested millions in promoting SAM (Software Asset Management) and the biggest benefactors have been the Consultants implementing this questionable benefit. You still don’t see numbers from the BSA stating this many thousand PC’s are now dormant due to layoffs, and the value of redundant licences is X million UK £. What happened to all of Lehman Brothers licenses? Once the economy picks up then hopefully those moth balled licences can be put back into use. But I have my doubts.

    Software Companies be honest and examine the vast profits you make to compensate some stock holders and top management. The margins in that industry beat anything else that comes to mind.

    Use some of that to design a new model of delivery so people pay what they use and they can buy in smaller more affordable chunks. Say thank you and reward your regular users. Remember you have a lot of loyal customers who continue to pay you significant subscription dues and upgrade costs.

    Look at mobile phones. Pay as you Go has opened the market to a huge customer segment. Africa and parts of Asia saw an explosion of phone use once you could buy air time at numerous kiosks for as little as 50p top up. In the beginning only the well heeled could afford a mobile phone, just as in UK whole segments of population did not consider them affordable or a necessity. It was only when the air time packages came down in price and coupled with affordable basic phones, did the consumer embrace and leverage the benefits of the extensive network mobile phone companies had built. Had this revolution in retailing not happened the penetration in some markets would be 5% at most, compared to the current 60-80% due to pay as you go? Imagine if the only way you could have a mobile phone was by contract?

    That’s just what the software industry is largely doing right now and it can’t see the bigger opportunity of using a new more customer centric delivery model. It will take a brave software brand to change this, and Google has already begun. Look at Picasa and ask why bother buying a licence for a photo image manager?

    Perhaps the BSA should stop making us feel guilty and make less noise about the millions $ lost to piracy and look at what was left on the table because the sales proposition did not excite the consumer.

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