People Beginning To Question The BSA's Vindictive Campaign Against Companies Using Unauthorized Software

from the a-bit-out-of-touch-with-the-times dept

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.

Filed Under: bsa, copyright, software

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2007 @ 1:31pm

    Re: Re: Ignorance?

    And while their licensing schemes may be complex, they're not unintelligible.
    To an expert. Or sometimes not even then. I've called Oracle's licensing department with the same licensing question six different times and gotten six different answers. If even they can't figure it out, how am I supposed to?

    I know that the article is about the BSA,
    More specifically, it is about the BSA and small business. Try to remember that.

    the BSA is pretty much Microsoft's enforcement arm, and I know that Microsoft is pretty reasonable about helping people sort out licensing.
    Oh yeah, that's what the whole story is about: How reasonable the BSA is.

    I actually had an IT director once who was so frustrated with Microsoft licensing that they called MS and said "I need help." Microsoft paid to send a consultant to our site for a couple of days to help us understand their licensing schemes and set up a self audit.
    That's nice and all, but most small businesses don't have IT directors and Microsoft doesn't fly consultants out to them either.

    When your company is buying shrink-wrapped copies of MS Office from Circuit City, you're probably going to end up with a license deficit.
    In other words, you're going to wind up BSA bait. That's why many are swearing off those products. Using them is a big risk liability they can't afford.

    But if you're buying volume licenses through on the their Open, Select, or Enterprise plans, you'll not only save money but you'll also get some tools that make keeping track of licenses a lot easier.
    Again, while I'm sure those things are nice for large companies, let me remind you that we're talking about small business. Those things aren't available to small business.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown for basic formatting. (HTML is not supported.)
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.