November 26, 2007

BSA In The News [8:20 am]

And a hidden cost of using proprietary software is revealed: Software makers’ tactics against piracy questionedpdf

The BSA is well within its rights to wring expensive punishments aimed at stopping the willful, blatant software copying that undoubtedly happens in many businesses. And its leaders say they concentrate on small businesses because that’s where illegitimate use of software is rampant.

But technology managers and software consultants say the picture has more shades of gray. Companies of all sizes say they inadvertently run afoul of licensing rules because of problems the software industry itself has created. Unable or unwilling to create technological blocks against copying, the industry has saddled its customers with complex licensing agreements. In that view, the BSA amasses most of its bounties from small businesses because they have fewer technological, organizational, and legal resources to avoid a run-in.

In Gaertner’s case, some employees had been unable to open files with the firm’s drafting software, so they worked around it by installing programs they found on their own, breaking company rules, he said. And receipts for legitimate software had been lost.

“It was basically just a lack of knowledge and sloppy record-keeping on my part,” said Gaertner, who ended up with a settlement that cost him $40,000.

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