Techdirt Will Pay Up To $1 Million For Proof Of BSA Million Dollar Pay Out

from the please-note-the-up-to-part dept

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) is no stranger to bogus numbers. It puts out its easily debunked (even by the firm that did the research) claims of “lost sales” due to piracy every year, and doesn’t bother to respond to critics who point out that the numbers are totally misleading. Like the RIAA and the MPAA, the BSA pretends that every unauthorized copy is a lost sale and never admits that there are also benefits to the industry to unauthorized software. A few years ago, the BSA started a “snitch on your boss” program, where it promised to pay “up to” $200,000 if you alerted the BSA to the fact that your employer used unauthorized copies of software (not realizing, of course, that this program probably pushed more people to look at open source alternatives, rather than pay up for software). Today, the BSA is getting lots of press for raising the snitch award to $1 million… sort of. Actually, if you read the fine print, you realize that it’s “up to $1 million” and the BSA alone gets to decide how much it pays out under its own, mostly unstated, rules. In fact, when went looking to see if the BSA paid out people anywhere near the $200,000 it had previously announced as the reward, it found, instead, the only announced awards were around $5,000, well shy of the $200,000 being touted. Of course, it’s all perfectly legal, since the promise is “up to” $200,000. And, now that it’s “up to” $1 million (with most of the press coverage ignoring or playing down the “up to” part) we’d like to promise up to $1 million if anyone can offer proof of the BSA awarding anyone $1 million. As for how much we’ll actually pay and what constitutes proof, that’s at our sole discretion (as per the BSA’s terms and conditions).

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Comments on “Techdirt Will Pay Up To $1 Million For Proof Of BSA Million Dollar Pay Out”

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Matthew says:

BSA run by Dr.Evil?

A million dollars! *puts pinky to corner of mouth*

Whatever. Any business that is too small to pay that much in fines has employees too faithful to “snitch” (probably just the ‘owner’ him or herself), and any business large enough is already paying for, or moved on.

All this does is advertise the paranoia of the IP industry.

Anonymous Coward says:

Startup companies/bands benefit from having their work “pirated”. This makes sense. They want to get the word out about their product/album. But, as soon as that stage is over, having their work pirated is no longer beneficial. It is a stretch to say that Microsoft benefits from piracy now (in the US).

Did they go about it the wrong way by initially overlooking piracy then coming down hard on it? Does that make them hypocrites? Maybe. However, I do agree that every unauthorized copy is not a sale. But, at the same time, it would be hard to put a percentage on those that were.

Jack Sombra says:

“It is a stretch to say that Microsoft benefits from piracy now (in the US).”
Not really a strech because it makes it less likely for people to turn to open source (or other cheaper paid for software) in their home enviornment.

And as they don’t take that route the less people experience (and become experienced in) alternatives to MS, thus keeping MS’s domination in the buisness world

The only place it is a strech is to say MS benefit from piracy is in the workplace.

Rachel says:

Actually, as long as your market share is growing, piracy DOES have an unintended benefit, even to Microsoft: Expanded Market Dominance.

If everyone is using Word (even the pirates), then when the next version of Word comes out people will continue to use it, and some of those pirates might even pay. If nothing else, every pirate who uses Word is one less pirate pushing Open Source alternatives… which I imagine is still in Microsoft’s interest in maintaining dominance.

Nasty Old Geezer says:

Re: Re:

Exactly! Althoug I would have said “as long as no one else’s market share is growing” since holding 100% of the market is perfection.

How else does M$ sell a basic office set of programs for upwards of $400 at retail? The aim of any unregulated monopoly is to set prices at the level of maximum profits. Competition always reduces the selling price, and therefore profits.

Even the potential of competition may reduce prices, since the lower price point makes it more difficult for a competitor to raise sufficient capital to create a viable product. That is why M$ is so aggressive about the “cancer” of open source software.

I get it! says:

It’s really fun to sit here and watch everyone find ways to convince themselves and everyone else that stealing is a benefit to the copyright holder(s) of what was stolen.

They get more PLAY
More people learn the benefits about the Software

When some A$$hole breaks into your house and steals your computer, tell me how that’s going to benefit you and society.

Buzz says:

Re: Re:

Except… in piracy, no theft is taking place. Stealing implies that the original product was removed from the owner’s possession. In other words, the original owner doesn’t HAVE it anymore. Judges in court have made it abundantly clear that piracy is a form of copyright infringement, not stealing. It is ludicrous to compare the stealing of information to the stealing of materialistic things in the real world.

No one is suggesting that piracy is OK. Piracy is illegal and should be punished accordingly. However, whether people like it or not, it is indeed beneficial to society. When people read that, they make the mistake of adding the line, “… therefore, piracy is good, and we should all take part in it.” Think back to the American Revolution. By signing the Declaration of Independence, we essentially were committing high treason. I doubt they wanted to send the message that treason is an acceptable act, but no one can deny that this one instance was particularly beneficial.

I know it is not a perfect comparison, but we are living in a similar scenario. Piracy is not good, but it sends a message that corporations are overly protective of information and ideas. We are experiencing an information revolution. Companies like the RIAA and BSA have decided to FIGHT the inevitable changes rather than adapt to them. Their actions are as radical as those of the pirates!

I get it! says:

Re: Re:

Take your finger out of your ear. You kids just aren’t getting it. Stealing is “Stealing”. Point Blank.

If someone came into your house and said, “I’m going to steal your computer because I don’t want to buy it”…would you let them? Would stealing your goods/services be in your best interest?

No, it wouldn’t. But I’m sure you’ll reply back with a snappy half-baked reason why it’s good for society…you guys always do.

So given everyones thoughts about how laws are meant to be broken, let’s allow everyone to blow thru Stop Signs “Because they need to get somewhere faster and if they do, they will get their work done faster and people will be more productive thereby moving society along faster”….ooohhh, that’s a good one for you guys to use when you steal software and mp3’s!!!

Faceless Minion says:

Re: Re: Re:

Take your fingers out of YOUR ears sir. Copyright infringement is not stealing. Considering how desperately you cling to the letter of the law, one would think that the supreme court saying so would make you realize it. But, apparently not.

Again, you keep using the “steal your computer” example. A more apt one would be someone, somehow, making a full copy of your computer, without you ever truly hearing about it. How, sir, do you suffer?

I Get it! says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Ok Buzz and Chris, we’ll forget the computer stealing scenario…but I find that the comment about “Piracy is not good, but it sends a message that corporations are overly protective of information and ideas”….I guess you could call that “Intellectual Property”. And if I have an idea, everyone should be able to use that idea to whatever extent they can.

You start up your own Game Development Company called L33t R00lz. You hire 20 guys to make a game for XBox. You get venture capital of about 20MM to make the game. You start selling the game for $60 per CD.

Some guy in Russia finds a way to copy your CD and is now giving cracked copies away for free.

So, given this logic, it’s ok for Sergey to give away your game which you and your team developed because he’s sending a message that you’re too over-protective of your coding??? Is it anymore justified if you already re-couped your $20MM in venture capital and now you’re making money on any sale over that $20MM??

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

You start up your own Game Development Company called L33t R00lz. You hire 20 guys to make a game for XBox. You get venture capital of about 20MM to make the game. You start selling the game for $60 per CD.

Well, there’s your first problem. You set up this specific scenario. What if I set up the following scenario:

You start up your own super high end restaurant called IGETIT EATS. You hire 20 top chefs to make the best food around. You get venture funding for about $20 million to handle startups costs. You start selling meals at $100/dish.

Then, some guy down the street figures out your recipes and opens up YOUGOTIT MEALS and charges $20 for the similar meals.

In the normal world, that’s called competition. Just because you took a bad investment, it doesn’t mean you get extra protection from the government.


So, given this logic, it’s ok for Sergey to give away your game which you and your team developed because he’s sending a message that you’re too over-protective of your coding???

I’m not sure how many times this needs to be repeated, but NO ONE has said it’s okay for someone to give away your stuff. What they’re saying is that it’s NOT THEFT and it’s NOT as bad as folks make it out to be. In fact, it can be quite beneficial. Only focusing on the negative side makes you look like you don’t even understand your own market.

Buzz says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I just wanted to add one thing to Mike’s response:

We accept piracy the same way we accept banks being robbed, cars speeding on the highway, people lying to one another, etc. We resist these events to the best of our ability, but we accept it as part of the world we live in. We do NOT accept it in the sense that we find these behaviors individually “acceptable”. We simply want to point out that the “protections” instantiated by these annoying companies is like putting bars, metal detectors, and police scans at the front of every bank. It basically harms only the honest customers by forcing them to waste hours just trying to withdraw their own hard-earned $50 while the robber just breaks into an unprotected window in the back and takes it all for free COMPLETELY BYPASSING THE PROTECTION. Piracy is the same way. The legitimate customers waste hours of their day dealing with serial keys, online activations, etc. while the pirate whips out a software crack and has a happy day.

This is why we seem to “support” piracy. We do not encourage the practice at all, but the pirates help support our point of how worthless “protections” are and how harmful they are to legitimate customers (especially in situations where software providers refuse to replace lost keys because we are not trustworthy, apparently).

Comicfan says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

You bring up a good point. How often does software backup the ones who go out and buy it honestly? Well let me say, I have bought my share of software, a lot of it to be exact. A return policy where I live states, once you open a software package, it cannot be returned if it fails to function. So that meaning, I buy a 70 dollar game, it fails to work, I’m out and Sony just made 70 dollars and they don’t give a damn. Same with all software. I believe the reasoning is this, someone can open it, copy it, and return it. So, this in fact turns people away and into piracy along with high prices. Who wants to get ripped off, pay for something that won’t be replaced? Look at MS windows, certain licenses, after so many activations, you have to BUY a new key, or if you lost yours, no matter if you have the original disk or not. Another big problem, Software vendors mainly state, they are NOT responsible for damage done to or by the software and can change the software or agreement at ANY time. We have no rights with software at ALL. The law is supposed to be this, when you buy an item that does not function as supposed to, you have so many days to return it by law. Now, software vendors seem to overstep this law, no? So isn’t it illegal if you buy a cd, it won’t work and you cannot return it? I’m not saying it’s everywhere but where I live, it sure as hell is like this. Once again, this type of scenario…

Software vendors and RIAA, MPAA etc…: Outrageous pricing, no liability in any way for their product damage or otherwise, over step any return law, tell other countries what to do, can begin a nation wide lawsuit, investigations, court claims, at a whim, more power it seems than the F.B.I.

People: Hard working, getting price raped, can’t return bad software product, have no rights with software, made to look worse than murderers or rapists for copying software.

Tell me why piracy happens. See, while piracy is illegal, there was also supposed to be a balance against monopolizing and other means of ripping people off. They have over stepped this by a looonnggg shot. If no one will stop price raping, it’s going to lead more people to stand up and say, no more. I’ll copy the damn thing instead and who can blame them?

Where are the defenders against piracy to stand up against the RIAA? Remember when they knowingly stiffed people for BILLIONS in the 70s? YES, THEY STOLE FROM PEOPLE,I think they were fined but money was worth more then, so what they paid back was laughable.

If our government can’t balance our national pricing and allow us to get ripped off, someone has to.

Buzz says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Agreed.

What fascinates me is, given the choice to fight piracy or help customers, these companies would rather fight piracy. Microsoft could never live with itself knowing it may have given a free Windows key to a lying pirate, but it has no problem telling an honest customer he or she has to blow another $400 on another key since they do not believe the key was lost.

Comicfan says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Agreed.

Exactly. The whole issue is greed really. I guess coming from the poorer side of things, I have seen how many kids get left without proper educations, without something as simple as an OS to keep up, not just at home but schools as well. Remember when MS attacked the schools who had multiple OS installed without each being a license? What those asses should have done was donate to our schools so kids have the resources, this just pisses me off. They could afford to not only donate an OS or multiple, but computers as well but never will. This is the greed that has stormed the nation. That’s when Linux began being installed. Sure it’s an option but regardless and as much as many of us don’t like it, Windows is still top dog and kids deserve a chance in my opinion. It’s gone from piracy to control which is very dangerous and some can’t see this.

Shalkar says:

Re: Re: Re:2 My Rant:

Let me explain it this way to you. Just as stealing $50 is a much lesser crime than stealing $500, so is “illegally copying” a lesser crime than going in to a store and stealing the software off of the store shelf. In most cases people who download an “illegal” copy of something, whether it be a game, music and/or otherwise, are either just doing it to see if it’s worth buying or they have no intention of ever buying it.

I’m the first scenario. I download something and quickly try it out to see if I like it enough to buy it. If I like it enough, I buy it. If I don’t, I delete it and regret wasting my time.

The second scenario means nothing. These people, if an “illegal” copy were not available, would never have tried whatever the product is.

So, at the benefit of having people never play your game, try out your software to see if it meets their needs and etcetera or listen to your music, (which how that’s a benefit I don’t know), you would have the negative impact of people never buying your game, software or music because they were never able to try it.

It’s like saying, “I’m not going to let rental companies buy my game. I’m also going to make it so that once a game is registered to a device, it can’t be played on any other device no matter what. No previews either. Maybe screen shots and a short description. If people want to know what my game is like, they have to buy it!”.

How much sense does that make? More importantly, how much money does it make? In both cases, very little.

On the side of, “It’s the law!”. Consider this: If a law took a ride on the coat tails of a bill. A law that basically said, “Whoever is sheriff may have sex with the wife and/or husband of any couple getting married within their jurisdiction on their first wedding night.”, would you adhere to this law? I sure as hell hope not! Not if you consider yourself a human being anyways!

This is the most extreme example I could think of. Of course. It makes my point though: The law is the law, but human morality should take precedent over any law. This means that through law we will have consequence’s for our actoins, but the morals of the individual and of society itself will always be more important by an ummeasureable amount than law. Law must change to accommodate these morals.

So is stealing wrong? By Morality and Law: Yes. Is making an exact copy of something and then selling it wrong? By law(in this case): Yes. By Morality: Yes and No.

Ultimately, it is the intention of the one making the copy, the person sharing the copy and the person receiving the copy that is what be wrong or right. Moraly and/or Legally.

RIAA, BSA and MPAA all want to treat a $50 theft as a $500 theft. This is wrong in every way. Let it be that they are punished for what they have done and continue to do. May the punishment be just and swift. These organizations should be made to immediately pay compensation and then desolved. We have more important things to worry about in the world than, “He copied my stuff! GIMME GIMME GIMME!!!”.

Nasty Old Geezer says:

Re: Re: Re:

No, you don’t get it.

No one is making a case that piracy or copyright infringement is somehow ‘right’.

If someone DID steal your compute — would you have the right to personally ransack everyone’s residence that *might* have your computer, or one like it? Are you ready to privatize the Constituion?

THe discussion here is about the behaviors of monopolies, and the inevitable responses to acquire a good (computer program) at something less than the prioce set by the monopolist. The point being made is this — the BSA and similar orgaizations are being allowed to usurp a great deal of power on the basis of false claims regarding losses.

To stay with the stolen computer metaphor: if you have an old Pentium 4 laptop taken, but you said it was a new COre 2 Duo on the insurance claim form, then you are committing fraud.

I don’t copy software, music, or movies — it is wrong, regardless of law. It is equally wrong to lie to lawmakers and the public in order to acquire special privelege.

Comicfan says:

All about money

I think if everyone took a good hard look at what drives piracy, “in my opinion”. People are being raped by companies like MS, Sony, etc… Outrageous amounts for an OS or a video game, or CD. They strive to take every red cent they can, leaving many in the dust. If prices were fair, that alone would cut down on piracy by a good 70% in my opinion. 15 bucks for a barf bag CD? Hundreds for non secure targeted Win OS? Come on! Up to near 100 bucks for a PS3 game??? Notice I said “up to”, I heard some were 80. Then people wonder why so many engage in piracy? Unfair prices and people know they are getting ripped off.

Tell me how Linux still functions being free? I don’t give a rat’s ass about donations, etc…that is nowhere near what MS brings in and yet, the Penguin lives on. When you can have free OSs and such, how is it MS needs to charge soooo much? I say screw BSA. By the way, who funds this? Is it tax payers?

Jason Buck (user link) says:

License to a person, not a machine

Software should be licensed to a person not a machine.
If you want to reduce the amount of Piracy, that is how it has to be. You paid for it, you should be able to use it whenever you want.

For instance, when I am working at a client’s location, and they don’t have a piece of software I need, I download the free trial. Each time I go to a new client’s office, I just download the software and use the trial version. Not pirating there… just installing free versions everywhere I go. So, is that a lost sale for the various Software Companies.

Secondly, I will RDP into my home computer and use anything that is not available for download. So again, I am one individual, using multiple pieces of software without ever pirating.

Thirdly, I could install a make an image of my machine prior to my installation of said product. Then install said product, do what I need to do with it, save my work to CD or other media, then restore my machine to the state it was prior to ever installing said software. Now I am free to install the trial as many times as I like.

Not Piracy…. but should be… and I do all of this, because I am not authorized to use a piece of software that is licensed to me on one machine, but not another.

Thanks for reading my rant

Trouble Maker says:

two cents worth

I know where the OFF switch is. I am at my loudest when I quietly close my wallet with my money still in it. I respect other’s Intellectual Property and I expect that I be given the same consideration. Are you willing to kill me to take what is mine? Because, I am willing to kill you to prevent my loss of it.

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