Software Audits In India Block Companies From Backing Up Their Data, Claiming It's Infringement
from the yikes dept
Gautam John writes in with a couple of posts concerning software audit “raids” done in India (also common in the US). The first explains how unfair the process is, noting how it’s basically court-sanctioned extortion. Outside groups get to basically stop your business for a whole day, harming your reputation among both employees and clients (even if you haven’t done anything wrong) and then can squeeze you to pay up. The Associated Press did a big expose on how the BSA, in particular, has a history of using underhanded means to squeeze many small businesses to pay up — even noting that the BSA keeps the money, rather than distributing it to firms. The most egregious part, though, was where the “auditors” refused to allow the company to back up its data, saying that the data might be created with unauthorized software, and thus, backing up the data would be infringing.
The BSA quickly responded, asking the blog owner to post its detailed response, where it defends the raids. Unfortunately, its defense is incredibly weak. It starts off — as does pretty much every BSA story — with it claiming that “independent studies” show how much damage to the wider economy unauthorized file sharing does. That’s not accurate at all. We’ve picked apart the numbers before, showing how the BSA numbers are totally bogus (and, while it’s a third party that came up with the numbers, it’s entirely paid for by the BSA). A big part of the problem is that the industry only looks at the downside to the economy, and doesn’t include any factor to recognize that companies that use unauthorized software also help the economy. Perhaps the downsides outweigh the upsides… but totally ignoring all upsides and then double, triple and quadruple counting the downsides via “ripple effects” does not make for a credible study.
However, the BSA then goes on to defend the practice of not allowing companies to back up their data, by basically saying “hey, that’s the law.” But, of course, that only supports the original poster’s complaint that this is effectively “court sponsored extortion.” It does nothing to explain what’s illegal about backing up your data (which is not covered by the copyright of the software companies).
Of course, in the end, all these sorts of tactics do is push people to explore open source alternatives, not just because they’re cheaper (sometimes free, though, not always), but because they don’t have to put up with legal bullying and extortion-like tactics.