by Mike Masnick
Mon, Nov 26th 2007 8:21am
The BSA is famous for overhyping its claims. It puts out completely bogus stats about how much unauthorized software "costs" the industry -- which count pretty much every unauthorized copy as a lost sale and doesn't count back in any of the benefits software firms get from people using copied versions of their software. The BSA is also the firm that hypes up how you can get a million dollars for turning in your boss for using unauthorized software, even though the details suggest that the firm rarely pays out more than $5,000. Now more people are hitting back at this program, not just for the bogus numbers, but because the BSA seems to take great joy from squeezing small businesses for thousands of dollars when they often simply couldn't figure out the terms of the software licenses they purchased. The Associated Press looked into the BSA's tactics and found that the organization makes a ton of money from going after these small firms, and also notes that its advertisements telling people to rat out their bosses for unauthorized software usage push employees to turn in their employers rather than actually fix the problem by making sure the firm properly licenses its software. Of course, when squeezing small firms is so lucrative, why would the BSA and its big software backers want more legitimate licenses? That just takes away from the ability to squeeze much more money out of small firms than they ever would have paid for in purchased software. And people wonder why more small businesses are looking to make use of open source products whenever possible? Update: Changed the link to a longer version of the AP story that includes even more details about problems with the BSA's tactics, including a couple of interesting points. First, it notes that the BSA keeps the money it gets, rather than distributing it to the software companies who support the BSA. In other words, the group has every incentive to keep squeezing money out of companies, rather than actually reducing unauthorized use. Second, the article points out that the BSA's actions are, indeed, driving more people to swear off the software of the BSA's supporters.
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