We've already talked about the BSA's misleading
program to get people to turn in their employers for using unauthorized copies of software. Now, sister organization, SIIA, has introduced its own silly program. Reader Jon
writes in to let us know that the SIIA is supposedly offering $500 to anyone who "turns in" someone who sold them counterfeit software
online. While the SIIA says it hopes that the recipient of the $500 uses it to buy legitimate copies of the software, they don't have to. At first glance, this program looks like it creates a system that gives people incentives
to buy counterfeit software. After all, why not buy the counterfeit software, collect the reward and pocket it, while keeping the software? However, if you read the fine print, you'll realize that the program is quite limited
. It's not really $500. It's "up to" $500, apparently at the SIIA's sole discretion. And... it's only open to the first 100 people who qualify. And... they'll get to use your name in press releases and force you to post feedback on eBay about how the seller sold you counterfeit software. And... it doesn't appear that you get any amnesty for having the software, meaning you could eventually be liable yourself for using counterfeit software (though, you have to give up the software to the SIIA, but if you installed it first...). Then, there's the best part. If the SIIA winds up in a court case with whoever you turn it, you may be required to testify -- and (wait for it...) the SIIA may
reimburse your expenses, but if they do, those expenses will be reduced by the amount the SIIA paid as a reward
. In other words, the "reward" simply becomes a prepayment on just some of the expenses you incur to testify on the SIIA's behalf. How nice of them.