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

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  1. identicon
    Freedom, 26 Nov 2007 @ 9:04am

    Licenses need to be standarized...

    It's an absolute nightmare for small business to be in compliance with software licenses. For a business with less than 20 people, they generally don't have the resources/time available to fully understand the license agreement. In most cases, even the company issuing the licenses don't understand it as you'll get widely different answers when you call to clarify usage restrictions.

    There needs to be a standardized license setup that is easy to understand and follow:

    - Open License: Install on as many PCs and for as many people as you'd like
    - Restricted Device License: Install on x # of devices, unlimited users.
    - Restricted User License: Install on unlimited devices, limited to x users.

    The software companies can then build in compliance to check for users/devices out of range of the license count.

    We also need to start looking at activation standarization. This is the next big class-action lawsuit waiting to happen. Think of the situation where 15 years from now you want to use your copy of Microsoft Office 2003, but you can't because the activation center was taken offline and Microsoft no longer officially supports the product. You have a legal copy but can't use it.

    Whenever a company decides to use activation for license compliance they are handing the client a life-long support contract for activation and activation support which they probably can't cost justify after the first 5 or 10 years. While most folks understand that they don't own the software, just the right to use it, this essentially means that you are now leasing your usage rights to the software for x years.

    A better design would be to require all activation type software to automatically unlock after 7 or 10 years.

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