Get ready for more calls from the software police. The Business Software Alliance (BSA) is increasing its maximum finders-fee for software piracy leads to $200,000.
The BSA is a software industry association (i.e. a special interest group) whose mission is to promote the business of commercial software vendors. One key objective is to cut down on software piracy, which it accomplishes by following up on tips about companies that are running non-licensed commercial software. According to its website
, BSA members include Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, Borland, Internet Security Systems, Microsoft, McAfee, SolidWorks, Sybase, Symantec, and VERITAS Software.
In an interview with Computerworld
, attorney Robert Scott said that BSA is upping the finders-fee in order to drive more fines against software users, which it keeps for itself.
I think the basic problem is that in order to generate revenue for its own operations, BSA is driving more enforcement money.... BSA keeps all of the money it generates from enforcement. None of the money goes back to the members.
Few would disagree that software piracy is wrong. But according to Scott, the increased bounty money will probably result in a greater number of false reports to BSA.
Basic economics suggest that when you put these types of incentives in place, a rise in legitimate and illegitimate leads will increase. For the salaries that these IT folks make, $200,000 is a lot of money.
That’s why I think there’s a huge potential for abuse. My clients tell me that the very people they thought were handling compliance for them were the same people they’re sure turned them in.
Scott predicts that the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA)
, the other major software special-interest group, will probably follow BSA's lead and increase its own finders-fee.
So, how should IT organizations respond to the increased risk of being caught in a BSA enforcement action? A periodic desktop audit program for software license compliance is now more important than ever.
Unfortunately, according to our research at Computer Economics, 67% of companies do not conduct such periodic software audits
. Many companies, therefore, are probably over-buying software licenses to ensure that they are compliant.
The business case for a comprehensive software asset-management program just got better.