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The Almighty Buck

Under The Surface Of The BSA Anti-Piracy Campaign 292

Posted by timothy
from the scare-tactics-or-scare-strategics dept.
cloudscout writes: "The Business Software Alliance has been sending out threatening letters to companies across the US hinting that they may be audited for licensing compliance. This article on Yahoo, tells the complete story. First, the letters are really just a marketing tool to sell more software. The BSA has no intention of following through with their threats. Second, and possibly even more importantly, the tactics are often resulting in a switch to open source software. It seems that nobody likes a bully. Play hardball and people will start taking their business elsewhere." My mom was genuinely frightened when she got The Letter, precisely because of the threatening tone this article discusses.
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Under The Surface Of The BSA Anti-Piracy Campaign

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  • It was a completely(as in totally) Open Source, with emphasis on the GPL, shop. My boss told me he convinced the CEO, who was waffling, to go Open Source with something like the following conversation:

    CEO:"Ever have to deal with the BSA?"

    Boss:"Yup..."

    CEO:"Complete F***'ing Bastards eh. God, they'll ruin your day"

    Boss:"Yup.....how'd you like to tell them to go f*** themselves if they ever show up here?"

    CEO:"Go on...."

  • When the BSA knocks, I will tell them to get the fuck off my land. If they force their way in, I start pulling triggers, with Texas law firmly on my side.

    The BSA is not a police force. They have no power to audit. Even if they convince a court to issue a search warrant for stolen software, the BSA does not get to do the search. The gov'ts own agents do.

    As operations manager at a business, individually setting up each PC woth a unique CD key is an unreasonable burden. There are thousands of PCs here. I install one machine with windows and office and whatever and CLONE it for new staff that needs it or when a machine is upgraded.

    I have all the other licenses in a box in the office, but absolutely do not have time to put separate keys on each installed machine. And if the BSA thinks I'm violating the law they can go fuck themselves.

  • The BSA asks a federal court to require you to perform a software audit as part of their impending civil/criminal lawsuit against you.

    The BSA cannot even do this, because thanks to software piracy now having status as a CRIMINAL LAW and not civil law, the accused is now protected by the "innocent until proved guilty" statutes. They don't have to prove their innocence, nor can they be forced to testify against themselves (you "required audit").

    For Christs sake, that's the single most backwater response I've ever heard. "I'll shoot them if they dont get off my land."

    Try forcing your way into someone's home claiming that your stolen [whatever] in in there. You bet you can be legally shot by the landowner. Deal with it. This isn't a socialist owned state.

  • Now what would be more fun is to have the BSA audit you and then be able to prove compliance. You can then sue the BSA for a variety of penalties, and you can have them reveal who ratted you out and sue them. Of course, the BSA knows this which is why they say in the article that they do not seek court orders frivolously. A couple lawsuits against the BSA from companies that were compliant and audited could bring them to ruin.

    BSA may already have more than that to worry about. Seems that down in Dallas Texas, they are right now under criminal investigation for the threatening tone of a letter they sent to someone who is a favorite systems vendor to the Dallas police department. Something about the letter may constitute a 'terroristic threat'.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    According to the BSA, $2.94 billion was lost to piracy in North America alone last year, while $11.75 billion was lost to it globally for the same period. But so far this year, those figures have declined.

    These so-called "losses" are themselves fraudulent. First of all, they don't know how much piracy has gone on, they estimate. Second, they assume that everyone using pirated software would have gone out and bought the software (at full retail) if they hadn't pirated it. It is much more likely that the "pirates" would have sought out alternative, cheaper software.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 30, 2001 @12:29PM (#2182620)
    I shred the receipt once I know the product works. And I never mail in the software registration cards. The receipt has personal financial info I do not want to deal with storing properly and the reg info is just another place for spammers or telemarketers to harvest data. As for the discs, why do I need 500 Windows CDs laying around wasting space? I'll destroy all but a few. Just because a can't prove every software copy is legit does not mean I stole it.

    He who accuses must prove guilt. Note that "silence of the accused" cannot be used to infer guilt.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 30, 2001 @11:33AM (#2182621)
    Taiwan in not signed to either the Berne nor WIPO treaties (Actually Taiwan cannot sign since the US does not recognize Taiwan as a nation.) So copying software or music or video is 100% legal in Taiwan. e.g., Son May Records is an actual company that makes its living by selling copied media for less (usually minus all the booklets and goodies). They are locally licensed, pay local taxes, employ locals, etc.

    "Legal Piracy will prevent people from creating IP". Nope. Taiwan has many LOCAL cool bands, many of them quite wealthy. So much for the theory that they aren't making money because of a lack of IP protections.

    Now if someone puts Office 2000 on a Tqiwanese ftp server, what law is being violated?

    Get over the idea that that "IP" is a universal concept and quit foisting your own believed "right think" onto others. Copyright is your religious beleif and it is not universally right. Other concepts on IP are equally valid.

    Yankee go home.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 30, 2001 @10:48AM (#2182622)
    The BSA is so concerned about software piracy that they've decided to use only Free Software:

    http://uptime.netcraft.com/up/graph/?host=www.bsa. org [netcraft.com]

    The site www.bsa.org is running Apache/1.3.12 OpenSSL/0.9.5a (Unix) AuthMySQL/2.20 PHP/3.0.16 on FreeBSD.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 30, 2001 @12:00PM (#2182623)
    Yousa think *BSD gonna DIE?!
  • I believe I saw this poster as well... Even better: Right under "The BSA Is Targeting NYC" is the image of the back of a man's shaved head with a bullseye painted on it. How long until using Linux is a thoughtcrime?

  • Sounds good, but microsoft hasn't sold site licenses in a while. That causes major friction here. IS refuses to touch an pc with windows 98 on it (we have a site license for 95, which is valid forever), but many laptops do no support 95. Thus IS is becoming irrelavent for PC support, since they can't support what we need.

  • The site www.abes.org.br is running Apache/1.3.19 on Linux.
    It's interesting that until dec 2000 they were using NT4/IIS. Seems like these people really like free software.
  • That's part of the reason that RMS chose to call it "Free" Software, it's all about Freedom from tyranny. In fact, RMS still believes that the primary reason that one should switch to Free Software is because of the freedoms that it provides. He believes that you should even use Free Software if it is vastly inferior to its commercial software rivals. BSA strong-arming, and anti-consumer features in the new versions of Windows XP will simply bring this type of freedom to the forefront.

  • I was just thinking about it, and I suspect that I lack licenses for many of the programs I use, since I tend to delete the source trees eventually and the license doesn't generally get installed anywhere. Of course, the BSA probably doesn't have the necessary power-of-attorney to begin doing anything about it, but it would be somewhat awkward searching the web for licenses for all of the software you have.

    "Yes, I want a CD with 300 copies of the GPL and a number of assorted other licenses. Wait, can I use the BSD option on this one? What changes have I made to it?"

    In any case, I think Red Hat (or IBM?) should run a "Have you found you need more licenses? Come to our web site and download a couple." ad campaign.
  • This immideatly reminded me of all the "Big Brother is Watching" posters plastered everywhere in the Orwellian society. You can never be sure when you are being watched. So you live in constant fear and anticipate the thought police to come after you any moment.
    ___
  • Jobs arent just making copies. Jobs are research, jobs are faster releases, jobs are more stable releases, jobs are new programs completely, which equates to more money. etc. The list goes on. This all takes money in the first place.

    You can't possibly suggest that the number of jobs would grow anywhere near proportional to the number of copies sold. While what you are saying is partially true, what do you think would create more jobs: an increase in the number of copies of Windows sold or an increase in the number of cars sold?

    Possibly, but not neccessarily, that money could end up in a savings account, accruing interest for a company, or individiual. I'm not sure how this effects the GDP, but it seems reasonable to think it probably does somehow.

    Ah, good thing you asked. GDP = Consumption + Investment + Government Spending + Net Export. Also, Investment = Savings (this is non-obvious and I'm not going to try to prove it here, but basically, the money you save banks use to give loans to other people, which they, in turn, use to purchase capital goods). Thus, consumption affects the economy in the short-term, while savings stimulates long-term growth. More on that in Economics 102.
    But anyway, the companies' budgets are always stretched thin, and even more so now that there is a recession. Any increase in the operating costs would cause them to lay off workers.

    I'm not barking for the BSA. Wait, I am. Kind of. If you use it, you should buy it. If you cant buy it, you shouldnt use it. But an unauthorised copy doesnt equate to a lost sale. But it still does equate to a broken law (copyright) and still is prosecutable.

    No argument there, but I didn't even get into that discussion. I concentrated only on the economic aspects of piracy. The legal/moral side of the story is a totally different debate altogether.
    ___

  • by RelliK (4466) on Monday July 30, 2001 @01:55PM (#2182636)
    Yes! Yes!!! The BSA propaganda contridicts the simple economic truth: in order for a sale to occur, the buyer must be both willing and able to purchase the good or service. I am willing to buy a Ferrary, but I am not able to do so, therefore the sale does not occur. I am able to buy craft dinner but I am not willing to do so, therefore the sale does not occur. I am neither willing nor able to buy, say, Microsoft Exchange server, therefore the sale does not occur.

    Apparently BSA deliberately ignores the simple laws of economics. The difference between the number of copies sold and the number of copies installed does not equal to the number of lost sales. Furthermore, both numbers are estimated, so there is lots of room for creative accounting.

    Let's analyze this further. Another claim I often hear is that pirated software causes the loss of jobs: the loss of X revenue due to piracy causes the loss of Y jobs. I really wonder where they got the Y number from. Did they just divide X by the average wage or something? If a software company employs 1000 people and sells 100,000 copies of their software per year, does that mean they'd employ 2000 people if they sold 200,000 copies? How many man-hours does it take to produce another copy of said software? (To be fair, they'd probably need more assembly line workers if the software was packaged in boxes and sold retail, but you get the idea.)

    And here is the kicker: pirated software hurts the economy. Surely X dollars lost due to piracy means X dollars less in the GDP (in fact more than X due to the multiplier effect). Here is a newsflash: money does not appear out of thin air. X more dollars spent on software means X less dollars spent on other things. Therefore, if all the piracy was ever erradicated, the software industry would benefit at the expense of all other industries.

    Now, let's analyze the last point further. As I showed above, more copies of software sold do not translate into more jobs, since the marginal cost of making another copy of software is virtually zero. However, less units of other goods and services sold would mean less jobs in other industries (example: if people start buyin fewer cars, Ford, GM, et. al. will have to fire workers). Therefore, elimination of piracy would result in a loss of jobs and would make the economy weaker.

    I just love debunkning the BSA propaganda.
    ___

  • You can now use BSA's "free" software to track illegal software installed on your PC called GASP [bsa.org].

    There is only one restriction :o)

    • You can only use their "free" software for 5 (or 100?) PC's (regkey for only 5 stations)
    • It will only work for 60 days "free" after that you need to pay to see if you are using (so-called illegal) software ...
    • then you need to register to be compliant not to be visited by them.
    • Else you are using illegal software, remember?
    • To get a "free key" you need to enter your name, address, all information, else you are .. of'course ... using ILLEGAL software ...

    • I wonder if Attest Systems [attest.com] is a official BSA member ...
    • I wonder that software "Gasp Audit Tool" makes any connection to the net to "report", some info about the software here [attest.com].

    Something nice they do whenever closing a website .. some image [bsa.org] (link in dutch [bsa.org])
    Wondering if Attest Systems is promoting BSA ... they don't include a link [attest.com] in their customers-list :o)

    And some info about GASP:

    The BSA version of GASP® is provided to you through the cooperation of the Business Software
    Alliance and Attest Systems, Inc. The version you are about to download includes most of the
    features and functions of the full release of GASP. It is, however, restricted to the audit (and
    processing) of no more than 100 systems (desktops, laptops, servers) and will cease functioning
    60 days after installation. To use GASP on more than 100 systems or for continued use you will
    need to purchase the fully licensed version. Companies with 100 or fewer systems can easily
    purchase a fully licensed version of GASP online at http://www.attest.com. Companies with over
    100 systems are encouraged to contact Attest Systems, Inc. for purchase information. Phone
    numbers for Attest are as follows: US/Canada 800-471-4277, Other countries: 415-209-1700.




    Freaker / TuC

  • That's brilliant, and perfectly appropriate...

    If my mod points that were awarded on Friday hadn't expired already, I'd have given you some.

    --

  • All your licenses are belong to us!

    --

  • by TrentC (11023) on Monday July 30, 2001 @10:39AM (#2182645) Homepage
    ...when the BSA annoucned it was riding into town.

    I work at a local computer/software store, and I've been hearing the ads (I live near one of the cities mentioned in the article).

    And all last week, we've had people buying multiple copies of Office XP (now with new anti-consumer^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hpiracy features!) and Windows. All thanks to Der Gestapo at the BSA.

    Interstingly enough, we got a huge shipment of Office XP and the Windows trinity (98/ME/100), enough to cover our recent spike in sales. Lucky us, huh?

    Fortunately, as the *koff*koff*"Linux expert" at the store, I was able to do my part to make sure a few people walked away with some penguin-themed boxes...

    Jay (=
  • by nathanm (12287) <nathanm@@@engineer...com> on Monday July 30, 2001 @12:37PM (#2182646)
    They have an MP3 of the New York radio ad online here [bsatruce.com].

    Like another comment said, this is almost like Joseph Stalin telling kids to turn their parents in.
  • The problem is the costs involved. For example, suppose I go, as someone else said, and buy a copy of Exchange Server and a bunch of client licenses. I don't bother buying any Windows licenses because I'll be using the copies of Outlook Express that came with the computers I bought. But if the BSA comes along at Microsoft's behest and audits me, how do I prove I own those licenses? The paperwork's probably long gone, or at least buried deep in wherever I store company paperwork. I probably threw most of the original CDs away, if I even got them, because how many copies of the same CD do you really need? Can you find the license document for the copy of Windows you're probably running right now?

  • They could demand through discovery process a full auditing of your software usage. But that would be a process wherein they have filed a lawsuit already, and it would be under court supervision.

    Without such authority, you should be able to just tell them to go away. But you better make sure you are clean, because that might just tempt them to file the lawsuit.

  • Actually, an Exchage CAL is an Outlook License, at least with Exchage 5.5 & Outlook 97-2000.

    --
  • by sharkey (16670) on Monday July 30, 2001 @11:50AM (#2182651)
    I find your lack of receipts disturbing.

    The bugs you refer to will soon be propagated via .NET and Passport.

    --
  • until this becomes just another "All your base"?

    --
  • Open Source is software that doesn't suck. Sending out threatening letters sucks. Ergo...

    p.s. How come no one ever sees a threatening letter from the BSA saying that they will come over and audit your compliance in registering shareware?
  • If you don't like the license,
    don't accept the click-thru EULA
    don't install the software.

    That would seem to be the most simple solution.

    Have an *un*-installfest, followed by an Installfest.

    a simpleton response.
  • Yeah, I just spent the last 5 minutes looking for a link with pictures of those SCARY SCARY ads. ;) Does anyone have a link? They don't appear to be on the bsa or MS sites....
  • Why is BSA doing this? I would be much happier if they would just bring back the Gold Star. Heck, even an A10 would be better. I'm sure that selling motorbikes is not as profitable as being an industry shill, but it sure is a lot more fun for the customers.

  • This is actually a very good opportunity for free software to demonstrate its benefits. People who are perfectly happy with their situation rarely do anything to change it. People who seek out freedom are usually fleeing from opression. This is the way of the world. And when they land on this new shore, full of unimaginable opportunities, they'll never look back again.

    Don't fret that Free Software picks up rejects from the other software models. At least this way they have a dedicated interest in giving Free software a chance instead of taking one look at the command line and running back crying to their windows.

    -Restil
  • by Restil (31903) on Monday July 30, 2001 @11:18AM (#2182665) Homepage
    On the surface, the BSA has a purpose for existing. Piracy does happen. Some businesses do cheat on licenses. More software is being used than companies are being compensated for. To investigate cases where piracy is occuring is more than likely justified. However, that is where the line is drawn.

    To harrass or accuse anyone of a crime when there is no evidence that such a crime ever committed is a very BAD idea from a service point of view. You don't harrass your customers to make sure that they're not cheating you out of a few pennies. In a large corporation, even one that spends a lot of time making sure they're 100% compliant, there probably is 1-2% of noncompliant software installed, including software that was installed more times than the licenses allow for, or software for which the licenses were purchased but no supporting documentation exists.

    So the BSA threatens this huge corporation. Even at 1%, there is a lot of money to be lost even if the only fees the company will be levied with are the cost of the licenses. Its worth their effort not so much to get thier licenses up to date, but to reorganize their systems so that extra installation of photoshop that nobody uses is uninstalled. If they'll have to spend the money anyways, they don't necessarily have to send it in to the software company that is harrassing them.

    It makes perfect sense to move to open source in light of these events. At least you will know that no matter how many times you reinstall that one copy you purchased, nobody will ever bother you about it.

    -Restil
  • by leereyno (32197) on Monday July 30, 2001 @01:45PM (#2182666) Homepage Journal
    People who are whining about how they don't want open source to gain ground because of something the BSA is doing remind me of people in the military who didn't want the US to have snipers. In both world wars and in Korea we had to throw together a sniper training program when we realized that the enemy had snipers and that they were highly effective. The reason we had to throw a program together each time is that the brass would do away with the sniper schools as soon as the wars were over. It wasn't until Vietnam that our armed forces finally got it through their thick heads that any advantage you can get over the enemy by any means is a good thing. Moral victories don't mean shit. If you see an opening, you go for it. If you have an advantage, you press it. Playing "fair" is fine for sports and other competitive activities. When it comes to combative activities however, you don't play around and you leave your sentimentalism at the door.

  • Independant developers mean that you're getting software from someone other than Microsoft.
  • Tell us more, darnit!
  • ... Red Hat should do it for them. Great marketing scheme. :-)
  • There is a similar campaign starting up here in Europe, in time for the XP launch.

    I heard a M$ lawyer comment that the biggest problem with the call centre handling "disgruntled employees" is that close to 99% of the calls are really one company trying to get competitors audited. Sometimes its a few rogue salesmen in one company trying to tie up the competition, other times its a well funded campaign to derail a deal with the wrong supplier. Since the last grass campaign netted very few violations for the large number of calls, they have been developing a whole scripting system for the front line call handlers to filtre as many bogus calls as possible.

    They are now requiring face to face meetings with the grassers, before committing any resources to pursuing an audit. Even with more training for the call centre staff and about 20 dedicated auditing teams across Europe, they still expect only a few cases per year. Its not a revenue centre.

    Most of the increase in income will come from the scare campaign, along with pressure from the channel on every company who gets a letter. They have been trying to set up a new training program for companies who want to be certified Auditors. The feeling is that a regular scare mail campaign with demands to produce a yearly system audit will create a large Audit Company market. The plan was that the channel would share in the money earned by an audit, about 10,000 euros minimum, up to several million euros for a large corp, by asking for a certified audit report at the beginning of contract negotiations.

    With some more press coverage like this Yahoo article, I think I'll let customers know there is no teeth to the audit demands, and to just say no.

    the AC
  • This campaign is targeted to small and mid-sized businesses. That is where the most institutionalized piracy occurs.

    I think there's a much more important reason that the BSA wouldn't dare go after a Fortune 500 company - those are the folks that are lining Bill's pockets the most. Piss off the CIO with one of these "audit" threats, and he's likely to get B. Gates on the phone and threaten to cancel that 50,000 seat license to SQL Server.

    They also tend to have big legal departments that would just love to smack the BSA around like a red-haired stepchild.

    Naw, bullies always pick easy targets.

  • by Tackhead (54550) on Monday July 30, 2001 @10:40AM (#2182675)
    I send you this letter in order to have your revenues!
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Monday July 30, 2001 @12:15PM (#2182676)
    > > I won't even bother tearing most of these apart, I leave that to a kindergarden class.

    What the hell, I just graduated, so here's my shot at it. (Besides, I gotta do something to make up for my shameless "Hi! How Are You?" posts!)

    In the spirit of fairness, I'll address these to a Windoze audience. Obviously, going open source is the solution that allows you to avoid BSA harassment and remain legal. But since the BSA lives in a non-Open world, for purposes of this argument, I'll fight their arguments on their turf.

    > 9. Proper software management saves time, money and makes employees more productive.

    Arguably true. If you have processes in place for this, you've probably got decent process in place elsewhere in your organization. But that's a benefit to process, not to legal software :)

    > 8. Illegal software is one of the prime sources of computer viruses that can destroy your company's valuable data.

    ROFLMAO. Those goddamn "Elf Bowling" games are a prime source of viral infection. Warez aren't. Any warez group with sufficiently poor QA that they release warez with viruses will be hax0red into oblivion by their fellow pirates within seconds ;-)

    > 7. Illegal software is more likely to fail, leaving your company?s computers and their information useless.

    Not. See #8. I pay for my games, and then I apply the cracks/patches. Why? Because they're often more functional when cracked - for instance, I can use my CD-ROM drive to play background music, rather than having the disk in the drive.

    (And back to the more likely case -- in what way does installing the OEM version of Windoze from CD onto a freshly-FDISK'ed drive, compared with Joe Sixpack, who gets his installs from D3LL with an extra 100 megabytes of vendor-supplied bloatware, half of which doubles as spyware, decrease the reliability of a system?

    Indeed, I've seen far more data loss from "legal" vendor installation practices, such as "recovery CDs" that really mean "reformat and start over". Ghosted drive images (combined with partitioning strategies, such as a 1-2G partition for the OS, and the rest of the drive for data) provide real recovery, licensing be damned.

    In this case, being legal (i.e. owning a license for a Windoze install and Norton Ghost, rather than pirating both products), could be every bit as good (from a data loss perspective) as piracy, but the BSA types have chosen that the default way to "be legal" (i.e. "recovery CDs" keyed to BIOS and/or PSNs) is the less-reliable option.

    In their infinite wisdom, BSA has encouraged OEMs to make "piracy" (remember the controversy over Ghosting images being a violation of the EULA?) the better option from a reliability/reproducibility point of view. (Or as one sysadmin put it: "Yeah, right, like fuck I'm gonna install the same damn OS from the same fuckin' CD 10 times on 10 identical machines, especially since I just paid for 10 fuckin' OS licenses!!!")

    > 6. You can expect no warranties or support for illegal software and won?t have access to inexpensive upgrades.

    Hands up, anyone who's actually gotten support for products like M$Word or Windows.

    And to the both of you who raised your hands, keep your hands up if you think you got better support through the vendor than you would have if you'd called the Psychic Friends Hotline.

  • Unless your work for a company that produces computer games, I don't see this as a problem. The BSA is targeting businesses.

    As to the learning curve, when people realize that they can loose their business or their jobs because of this, they pay attention.
  • by oddjob (58114) on Monday July 30, 2001 @10:37AM (#2182679)
    Actually, I think this is a great way for people to be brought to open source. If you try to explain the benefits of free (as in speech) software to most people, you get blank stares. When companies start threatening their own customers, people start to understand. Nothing speeds up the learning process like a good real-life example.
  • This isn't meant as a troll, I'm seriously asking this and hoping someone will reply.

    I live in the US. The BSA shows up at my door. Why do I have to let them in said door? Why can't I just tell them to piss up a rope? I was under the impression that in the US the only people you have to let inside are police officers with a proper warrent. And if the BullShitters of America show up with cops with a warrent, why can't I just say "cops enter, BSA go screw yourselves?"

  • by ostiguy (63618) on Monday July 30, 2001 @10:35AM (#2182682)
    An exchange CAL = the right to use Outlook.

    You clearly are an amateur at criticizing MS licensing tactics. If you were an experienced MS licensing guy (read=VICTIM) like me, you would criticize things like MSDN. Having attempted to activate 45 MSDN Universal licenses over the past month, I have come to the conclusion that MS is trying to become a services company partially by attempting to completely alienate their most hardcore developers.

    ostiguy
  • by aonifer (64619) on Monday July 30, 2001 @03:27PM (#2182684)
    Dear Mr. Kruger,

    Thank you for bringing to my attention my possible thievery. Enclosed you will find a VHS tape of me wiping my Windows partition, as well as removing all Adobe and Macromedia software from my Linux partition. You will also see that I have burned all of my commercial software discs so that they do not fall into the hands of evil, Nazi-loving software pirates. Since I am no longer a licensee of any of your softare cartel's member companies, I will assume that this matter is closed and any further action on your part will be taken as harrassment and will be dealt with accordingly.

    Again, thank you for bringing this urgent matter to my attention.

    Sincerely,

    $ENDUSER
  • by wowbagger (69688) on Monday July 30, 2001 @12:22PM (#2182685) Homepage Journal
    < voice accent="italian" style="rough>

    Dear Mr. Luigi:

    It has come to my attention that you might be using software that, shall we say, fell off the back of a truck. The very thought wounds me deeply, as I know you would never show such disrespect to a friend.

    I am therefore going to give you a chance to make... amends. I do this out of respect for you, as you have been a loyal customer of ours. I am sure you will want our protection in future, and I am sure that you will do the right thing.

    Sincerely,

    Godfather Gates.

    P.S. I am sure I do not need to remind you of the unfortunate accident that befell Mr. Mario, when he unfortunately allowed our insurance to lapse.

    </voice>
  • > STICK THE DAMNED LICENSE RIGHT ON THE CASE

    Yeah right. So that it is within easy reach of any disgruntled employee for trashing just before he leaves (...and turns his employer in, two weeks later...)

  • > Is there anything else in your company that costs any money that could possibly be damaged by a disgruntled employee? Desks? Lamps? Chairs? Hard drives?

    There is a big difference between intellectual propery and physical good. Let's take your example, lamps:

    • You don't see lamp manufacturers actively encouraging disgruntled employees to break their desk lamps. Sure, it might boost sales, but lamp manufacturers are above such sleezy tactics.
    • Lamps are actually useful, and if broken, it gets noticed pretty quickly. Whereas a missing license sticker on a PC might not get noticed for months... You'll never know for sure whether it was Joe who tore off the license of his computer when before he left, or whether that computer was part of a batch which happened to have no sticker, or whether it was Paul who did it 3 months ago, before he left!
    • Motivation is difficult to prove. Somebody might have torn off the sticker, not because he wanted to get his boss into trouble, but just because he considered it an eyesore. However, smashing a lamp is somewhat harder to justify. If the fluorescent lights in the office annoy you, you just leave them off. But you don't smash them.
    • And most important: people never leave or get fired over their taste in desk lamps (well not usually [imdb.com], at least). You get that distinct "they slept with the dragon; they got eaten by the dragon" mentality that fosters poetic justice.
    > And we'd better not accumulate any intellectual property, as it may be disclosed.

    If this is company-owned IP, it will in most cases be only known by a handful of people. And if it tend to get leaked, it will thus be pretty easy to find out who did it (Who had access to it? Who had a motivation to do it? Where did the leaked info first turn up?). Of course, the raise of the Sircam [f-secure.com] and Magistr [f-secure.com] virii has changed the outlook on this issue (pun intended...) by providing enough plausible deniability, but this is a quite new phenomenon.

  • by Ender Ryan (79406) on Monday July 30, 2001 @10:38AM (#2182693) Journal
    Isn't one of the best things about _Free_ Software the Freedom that comes with it?


    That's one of the major points of free software, freedom!


    Then there is the fact that everyone can look at the code to, learn, improve the code, simple enjoyment, security reasons...


    This is definately a good thing.

  • You are correct that the State of Texas does not like people who shoot law enforcement officers. They also do not care for people who claim law enforcement authority and do not have it. I remember a West Texas policeman, who declared himself the town boss, being shot on the courthouse steps at noon Saturday in a farm town. The investigating Texas Rangers, best police in the state, could not find a single witness. They provided police services until a replacement was hired. I also remember El Paso policemen losing cases and prisoners for illegal search and seizure. These same policemen gunned down several holdup men foolish enough to fight them. Nothing is as simple as it appears, and a snap decision, made without sound advice, could ruin your whole life. When in doubt, get a lawyer.
  • an indirect link to a definition from law.com [phoenix.az.us].

    barratry
    n. creating legal business by stirring up disputes and quarrels, generally for the benefit of the lawyer who sees fees in the matter. Barratry is illegal in all states and subject to criminal punishment and/or discipline by the state bar, but there must be a showing that the resulting lawsuit was totally groundless. There is a lot of border-line barratry in which attorneys, in the name of being tough or protecting the client, fail to seek avenues for settlement of disputes or will not tell the client he/she has no legitimate claim.

  • by geekotourist (80163) on Monday July 30, 2001 @12:21PM (#2182696) Journal
    Salon / LATimes / Slashdot covered Microsoft's use of the BSA against schools [slashdot.org]. With the Los Angeles Unified School District, where "hundreds" of unlicensed copies were found, the BSA starts with the threat of a $150,000 fine for each copy of a $100 per license product. ($100 at best. 1/3 of the software found was MSDOS- in 1996 what would that be worth- and schools get those up to 90% discounts, so its unlikely any software would've cost the district more than $100). They "negotiate" down to a $300,000 total fine, and the school district probably felt very grateful for this kindness of the BSA.

    This is a 150,000% fine negotiated down to a 1,000% fine. (or 1,500x down to 10x) How does the BSA get to levy fines so out of proportion to actual damages? Is software piracy that much worse than discharging toxic substances into waterways (max fine $125,000)? Misbranding a drug in interstate commerce (max fine $100,000)? Violating the Sherman Antitrust Act (the fine listed in Section 3571 (d) is "not more than the greater of twice the gross gain or twice the gross loss" caused by the conduct...)?

    Assuming that "hundreds" = 500 copies found, then the LAUSD had found roughly 1 copy per school, or 1 copy per 120 employees ( it has 60k employees total). The BSA got to treat the LAUSD as if it had found widespread felonious behavior rather than a few years worth of a few people deliberately or mistakenly making copies. That is too much power for one relatively small group (sure, $3 billion sounds like a lot, but per capita that's only $30/ working adult). Extraordinary fines should require extraordinary proof, but instead the BSA has you do all the work, and unless you are completely clean, you're faced with that 1,000x fine.

    Put another way: if local traffic courts had $100,000 tickets for speeding, you'd feel grateful if the court "reduced" the fine to $666. But should the original ticket be so high? Most people would have to accept whatever the court says, because the original penalty makes it almost impossible to fight- you'll fight a ticket if you can accept the possibility of failure- with the original penalty so high, that risk cannot be taken. Not to mention if *you* had to show that you didn't speed, even a little bit, and lack of evidence = proof of guilt.

    The BSA's power fails the Categorical Imperative [erau.edu] test (i.e. only set rules for yourself that you'd be willing to accept as rules for everyone). Imagine if every association had the BSA's power. Failure to pay overtime can be worth hundreds to an employee. So lets have unions get the power to force self-audits for overtime, with $400k fines per violation. Or not paying a consultant on time... I think $200k is an appropriate fine, and half should go to that consultant, of course.

  • I wonder if they paid for that copy of MySQL [mysql.com] ...

    (MySQL now comes in a new dolphin flavoured package [mysql.com].)

  • Whenever the BSA conducts a raid, they always have search warrants.
    --
    Lord Nimon
  • I would love to have a job that consisted soley of installing Linux on desktops at corporations that have decided that licensed software is too much of a legal exposure. I could make a good living doing that...
  • From the article:

    Still, Kruger insists: "We don't visit any of these companies. The ones getting the letters are not under investigation."

    (My italics.)

    So the BSA is sending out thousands of letters deliberately worded to promote Fear'n'Doubt, to people who are not under suspicion?

    Sounds like grounds for a cease and desist order, or even a class action suit.

  • There was this pretty famous ad from the 50's that I have on my wall in small poster form. It's got a very angry and evil looking guy drying his hands. At the top in large red letters it says "Are your bathrooms breeding Bolsheviks?" It goes on to talk about how rough paper towls can breed discontentment in the workplace, and that discontentment can lead to Bolshevism in the American corporation. Needless to say, the ad was from a paper towl company.

    This whole thing reminds me of that ad, like a repeat of history. Disgruntled employees undermining The American Way, pirating software in a communist fashion that destroys good corporate, American values. The communist domino effect that Americans were so worried about is the same idea as the Free Software cancer effect that Microsoft is throwing about now. It's all very absurd, and in addition to being a scare tactic, it places 100% of the blame on the companies themselves. "You have these rough paper towels, creating disgruntled Bolshevik employee software pirates!" No surer way to tick off a good customer than to blame them for doing something wrong and then telling them to run their business better.

    "I may not have morals, but I have standards."
  • The BSA is so concerned about software piracy that they've decided to use only Free Software:

    The site www.bsa.org is running Apache/1.3.12 OpenSSL/0.9.5a (Unix) AuthMySQL/2.20 PHP/3.0.16 on FreeBSD.

    FreeBSD is not Free Software. Open Source, shure. Even Microsoft likes the FreeBSD license, as it is allowed to steal that code, remember?

    Also Apache is not Free Software; it doesn't use GPL but the Apache Group License, which is basically a BSD license (you don't have to distribute the source code). I guess same applies to PHP as well.

    MySQL is Free Software, double-licensed with GPL and proprietary licenses.

  • by DrCode (95839) on Monday July 30, 2001 @12:52PM (#2182707)
    I think we should all call in, tell them we're disgruntled employees, and claim that our employers are buying only one copy of RedHat or SuSE and installing on multiple computers.
  • by 4of12 (97621) on Monday July 30, 2001 @11:51AM (#2182709) Homepage Journal

    saw this silly poster in the subway... It's bright yellow, and it says,
    "The BSA is targeting NYC".


    If I know my typical, jaded NYC dwellers, I sincerely doubt that they'd be cowed into software subservience by the Boy Scouts of America.

  • This is a 150,000% fine negotiated down to a 1,000% fine. (or 1,500x down to 10x) How does the BSA get to levy fines so out of proportion to actual damages?

    The purpose of a fine isn't to recoup actual damages, it's to deter people from taking the risk. There is a subway stop in Toronto that has two ways of accessing the train track: one through the legal system of paying $2 and going through the turnstyles and another by going in where the bus pulls into the station (a bus rider doesn't have to pay to access the subway). The fine, if you are caught, for using the second is $500. That's (coincidentally) 150x the cost of going in the legal way.

    Basically, you then have to look at it like this: if you feel you can cheat the subway system 150 times, then the economics say you should go into the bus area. I personally think that trying this 150 times will almost definitely get you caught once, so it isn't worth it.

    If the fine was $2, then I might as well try it, because the worst thing that can happen is they catch me and I pay the normal amount. This would cause them to have to have a gaurd posted there 24/7, which costs them money.

    As for your examples, I really don't see anything wrong with fining a corporation who doesn't meet OSHA or union requirements for overtime much more (yes, even 150x more) than the amount they were supposed to pay out if the act was done either willfully (they decided to take a chance and not pay it) or through serious neglect (they never bothered to ensure correct payments through random self auditing and had no intention of checking). Not paying a consultant on time can seriously effect a lot. Right now I am buying a house and if my employer decides to skip a payment between now and closing, I will definitely not get the morgage.

  • by xant (99438) on Monday July 30, 2001 @11:58AM (#2182715) Homepage
    Every copy of Windows I've ever installed was pirated, so they don't have my address. Phew!

    ____________________
  • Why not have the FBI and state police investigate the BSA for full compliance. Seems fair to me.

  • Why not tell them where to get free software and offer consulting service? For half the price of XP, Office and the trinity on each and every computer, you could set them up much beter: Central server with inteligent sharing, gateway, email, Star/K/WP what not. It might earn you more than being "Linux expert" at shrink wrap store. Set it up with two boxes at home then jump, man, jump!

    Yeah, yeah, keep it honest. Sell people what they want, be careful of store policy... but tell the truth to your cusotmers policy or none! Good luck.

  • I don't understand how these "audits" can possibly work. How can they prove that I have notpaid for the copy I am using, even if I can not be bothered to find any documentation? Isn't one of the main principles of western law that I am not guilty unless and until prven beyond reasonable doubt?
  • If you had always used only licensed software, you wouldn't have a problem now.

    Not necessarily true. In the Microsoft anti-piracy campaign, the burden is on the customer to prove his software is legal. A couple of years back I worked at a rather large organization (5000+ seats) which was largely a Microsoft house (with scattered pockets of OS/2 users). All PCs company-wide were replaced on a three-year cycle; new purchases were from established companies (IBM, Toshiba or Dell) and came preinstalled with Windows OSes.

    One day, Microsoft came knocking, and politely requested us to produce a license not just for each current seat, but retroactively for the past five years stretching back to Win3x days. In that period of time something like 25,000 PCs had moved through the company. As you can imagine, it was impossible for us to locate licenses for even half of them.

    The result was that the company was forced to pay several hundred thousand dollars to Microsoft to repurchase licenses on machines that had been legal all along; this included something like 3500 Windows 3.1 licenses for machines that had been depreciated out of the organization years ago.

    In addition, each new machine that came in was wiped clean and reconfigured with the company's standard configuration. In some cases, machines that preshipped with Windows 95 were reconfigured with NT, and vice-versa. In other cases, machines that had been upgraded over the years (from, say Win3x to Win95). In many of these cases, we were forced to pay for multiple licenses, often on machines that no longer existed, one for the original installed OS, despite that fact that it was A) already legal and B) never even used, and one for the upgrade or target OS.

    In sum, despite the fact that, to my knowledge, there wasn't a single unlicensed OS in the entire organization, we ended up dumping hundreds of thousands of bucks into MS's coffers simply because we couldn't prove that we were innocent. So much for American justice.

  • by SuiteSisterMary (123932) <slebrun AT gmail DOT com> on Monday July 30, 2001 @10:20AM (#2182731) Journal
    The great part is that the mere attempt to get into compliancy draws ire from Microsoft. "We note with interest that you recently purchased Exchange 2000 and X amount of CALs, and yet we do not have X amount of Office/Outlook licenses. Please prepare for an audit, as we cannot concieve of you using anything but Outlook, the premiere groupware collaberation tool, with Exchange 2000."
  • There's a great and classic quote from Star Wars that summarizes the situation well:

    Princess Leia: The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.

    --
    Karma down to 50 again. Thanks Karma Kap.

  • I can't disagree more strongly. This is essentially why RMS came up with the GPL in the first place. His immediate motivation wasn't to find a better way of squashing bugs or higher security. It was to avoid the obnoxious behavior of the companies that were selling proprietary software (though most of them were primarily hardware vendors at that time). He felt that their licensing practices were draconian and treated users as enemies. That's why placed so much emphasis on licensing issues; because licensing issues were what got him started down that path in the first place.

    --
    Karma down to 50 again. Thanks Karma Kap.

  • Don't try to frighten us with your closed-source ways, Lord Gates. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up more internet server market share, or given you clairvoyance enough to find all of the bugs in Win--

    *cough*
    *gag*

  • by tcc (140386)
    How come it hurted when I read that? :)
  • Anyone have a clue whether the BSA is actually asking an audit of companies who've made some purchases or are they simply going after anyone who's recently filed the appropriate paperwork to start or continue running a business? Reason I'm curious is that ever since I filed my paperwork I've gotten a huge amount of junk mail, much of which has dire warnings about this and that. So, is getting the BSA letter merely a matter of time, or do you have make some purchases to get their attention?

  • by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Monday July 30, 2001 @10:47AM (#2182746) Homepage
    As people who read my website [sorehands.com] know, I don't like bullies! Groups making empty threats like this, may be subject to consumer protection act violations. Even if a company does not not pay the fees, the expense of checking for compliance might be considered damages.

  • "Excuse me? You're here to investigate? And who the fsck are you?"

    Somehow I'm not shocked at the idea that this whole thing is little more than a shakedown. And I rather hope those who are dumping MSware number more than a few...

    /Brian
  • You wouldn't want anything to happen to your nice shiny new company, would you? My associates Doug and Dinsdale Piranha don't generally *like* the idea of nailing your head to the floor for using software that isn't legally licensed to you. It's just not fun for us (and when I say not fun, I mean a whole hell of a bloody lot of fun). So give us money.

    Signed, Spiny Norman the Hedgehog
  • You're accusing Microsoft of being clueful about things like that. They may be very good at sharking out a market, but they're also so arrogant that they actually believe the world at large wants a completely wired house, a cell phone that they can drive their car from, whatever.

    They sure as hell weren't expecting the US Court of Appeals to give them the stay of execution and then say "Hold on, boys, we haven't disconnected the switch just yet..."

    What they do understand is intimidation. If they lose that they lose the battle.

    /Brian
  • Naw, not shotguns. Black ice (viruses, worms, etc.).

    /Brian
  • by connorbd (151811) on Monday July 30, 2001 @12:41PM (#2182753) Homepage
    I always wanted to create my own open source license manager. I'm not quite sure why; I think it was just flat-out perversity...

    (It might actually be useful for a Linux distro company to make sure their support costs are getting covered, though...)

    /Brian
  • The Business Software Alliance has been sending out threatening letters to companies across the US hinting that they may be audited for licensing compliance.

    If the BSA shows up at your door, just don't let them in. If they force their way in anyway, that's called burglary. Sure, they can use legal force to get in by bringing US Marshals and/or FBI agents with them, but they would then need a search warrant.

    ---
  • When I first saw this piece I thought I was about to read an article about The Boy Scouts of America becoming sailors.
  • I think that this is a load of BS 'eh
  • Is this how you want people to go to OpenSource?
    They get threatened and pickup free software out of fear, or do you want them to do it on their own accord without proprietary bullying?
    I guess anyway is a good way in most respects. At least more people will try it....

    --
    Fnord is that feeling you get when you reach for a Snickers and come back with a Slurpee.
  • by jayfoo2 (170671) on Monday July 30, 2001 @10:41AM (#2182762)

    Play hardball and people will start taking their business elsewhere.

    Shouldn't the quote be: "The tighter you squeeze the more systems will slip through your fingers"?

  • by flicman (177070) on Monday July 30, 2001 @10:34AM (#2182765) Homepage
    Microsoft has bought advertising here in huge amounts and they're doing an interesting thing, which is that they have like 5 different posters, and 4 of them mention, casually, that disgruntled employees are the ones that turn in 80% of businesses for software piracy.

    Now, if you've ever commuted on the NYC subway, you know that EVERY ONE of the people on the subway in the morning are disgruntled, and on the ride home, those that aren't have become suicidal. I wonder at Microsoft's not-too-subtle play to get people to turn in their own workplaces. It feels (and I hesitate because of this) like a similar idea to violence in the media, but I wonder whether people (80% of the BSA's business, in fact) would know how to tell Microsoft or the BSA about software piracy without the handy URLs provided on every poster.

    thoughts?
  • by Alien54 (180860) on Monday July 30, 2001 @11:53AM (#2182767) Journal
    7. Illegal software is more likely to fail, leaving your company's computers and their information useless.
    8. Illegal software is one of the prime sources of computer viruses that can destroy your company's valuable data.

    Since that vast majority of illegal software is microsoft, does this mean that microsoft software is more likely to fail, have viruses, and have other defects?

    ;-)

  • by Wavicle (181176) on Monday July 30, 2001 @11:51AM (#2182768)
    Nope, BSA has no power to enter and audit without a court order. Since BSA is a group which is expert at inspecting whole companies and ensuring compliance using as little time as possible, the court is likely going to grant them the authority to conduct the audit.

    Once done and BSA finds out how many copies of everything you have installed, they must then prove that you have not purchased licenses for all of them. They'll usually do this by issuing a discovery subpoena for all your software purchase receipts. If you cannot show all your receipts, all is not lost... In a protracted court case you may be able to show that based on the preponderance of the evidence BSA has not shown that you were not in compliance. The court case would probably cost a couple million in time and lawyer's fees. However, it would cost BSA just as much... What they will really be looking for is a settlement.

    Now what would be more fun is to have the BSA audit you and then be able to prove compliance. You can then sue the BSA for a variety of penalties, and you can have them reveal who ratted you out and sue them. Of course, the BSA knows this which is why they say in the article that they do not seek court orders frivolously. A couple lawsuits against the BSA from companies that were compliant and audited could bring them to ruin.

  • I'd love to agree with you, but I cant, so instead, I'm going to add a little ... insight ... to some of your points:

    How many man-hours does it take to produce another copy of said software? (To be fair, they'd probably need more assembly line workers if the software was packaged in boxes and sold retail, but you get the idea.)
    Jobs arent just making copies. Jobs are research, jobs are faster releases, jobs are more stable releases, jobs are new programs completely, which equates to more money. etc. The list goes on. This all takes money in the first place.

    Here is a newsflash: money does not appear out of thin air. X more dollars spent on software means X less dollars spent on other things
    Possibly, but not neccessarily, that money could end up in a savings account, accruing interest for a company, or individiual. I'm not sure how this effects the GDP, but it seems reasonable to think it probably does somehow.

    However, less units of other goods and services sold would mean less jobs in other industries (example: if people start buyin fewer cars, Ford, GM, et. al. will have to fire workers). Therefore, elimination of piracy would result in a loss of jobs and would make the economy weaker.
    This is based on a false assumption. Does more car sales mean less software sales? I argue that it does not. Money doesnt always neccessarily get spent. Sometimes it is saved.

    I'm not barking for the BSA. Wait, I am. Kind of. If you use it, you should buy it. If you cant buy it, you shouldnt use it. But an unauthorised copy doesnt equate to a lost sale. But it still does equate to a broken law (copyright) and still is prosecutable.

    More software sales means more jobs within that company as it expands to meet new markets. That isnt neccessarily a good thing all the time (read: microsoft) but its no reason to steal software.

    ---

  • by ichimunki (194887) on Monday July 30, 2001 @10:22AM (#2182774)
    and nothing ever firmed in my mind more that I would no longer do business with Microsoft than a letter that started off with the following checkbox choices:

    A. Big fines from the BSA, or B. Big savings from Microsoft.

    (paraphrased)

    And they sent it to the mailing label name/address combo I get all kinds of small-business related junkmail at-- which contains a serious typo so I already recognize it.
  • by JMan1865 (223387) on Monday July 30, 2001 @10:28AM (#2182792) Homepage
    Since when are the Boy Scouts of America so worried about software piracy? I thought they just ran around tying knots and playing with fire...
  • by Xibby (232218) <zibby+slashdot@ringworld.org> on Monday July 30, 2001 @11:21AM (#2182794) Homepage Journal
    Don't have a scanner handy, but I have a copy on my desk:

    Dear $WHOEVER,

    Many people do not know they are using unlicensed software and that it's a violation of copyright law. The Business Software Alliance is currently targeting businesses in the $YOURCITY. If your company is using unlicensed software, it could become the focus of a BSA investigation.

    The BSA - an association comprised of Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, Bentley Systems, CNC Software/Mastercam, Macromedia, Microsoft, Symantec, and UGS - works to educate teh public on the importance of software compliance and to enforce intellectual property rights.

    The BSA is calling a Truce. You have until $ENDDATE to get legal.

    The BSA is offering a Software Truce in Newnan between $STARTDATE and $ENDDATE. Please take this time to review your software installations and usage and, if necessary, acquire the licenses you need. If your organization becumes fully licensed during the Truce, BSA will not seek to impose penalties for any unauthorized copying that occurred before $ENDDATE (unless your organizations has already been informed that it is under investigation). If the BSA contacts you, just show your Truce Participation Number and software purchase receipts to take advantage of the Truce. [Please see reverse side for terms.] Unauthorized copying is the same as stealing. If you're caught, your organization could face penalties totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Not sure if you're fully licensed? BSA can help you find out

    Trying to determine whether your organizatio is using illegal software? Visit BSA's web site at www.bsatruce.com [bsatruce.com] for more information and to download our free Software Audit tool, or call our special Truce hotline at 1-877-536-4BSA (1-800-536-4272). If ou find that you aren't 100% locensed, contact your software vendor immediately and but the software licenses you need before the Truce ends on $ENDDATE.

    Sincerly,
    Bob Kruger
    Vice President
    Business Software Alliance

  • by xjimhb (234034) on Monday July 30, 2001 @10:37AM (#2182796) Homepage
    Someone was kind enough to scan one in, I got hold of it and put it on my website at http://fantasticstories.8m.com - you'll have to read down through the text on the page to find the links, I didn't take the trouble to make it very obvious. Actually I got a copy myself, addressed to my "virtual" consulting company (me and a few sheets of letterhead paper), but I don't have a scanner.

  • by Cutriss (262920) on Monday July 30, 2001 @10:31AM (#2182816) Homepage
    The article's primary focus isn't that the BSA is playing hardball or that Microsoft is bad. The article is just talking about how the BSA doesn't follow up on these cases because THERE ARE NO CASES. The ad campaign is just being used as a scare tactic, and they're not going around bullying people like some victims claim (They may very well be, but not as a result of failing to agree to a Truce). Still, it is very unethical for the BSA to mass-market fear and propaganda like this. Should my company ever receive a letter like this, I'll probably end up calling the BSA to order them to take me off their mailing list unless they really ARE going to do an audit.
  • by BillX (307153) on Monday July 30, 2001 @12:50PM (#2182823) Homepage
    Thank you for your concern about the possibility of illegal software on our premises. However, we don't give a lone hair on a rat's patootie /* our office has 1 machine, in the back room, running Mandrake Linux */ and as such have made NO effort to check our systems for compliance.

    You are encouraged, and in fact demanded, to follow through on your threatening letter by the close of business on 01-Dec-2001. Failure to do so may result in the continued use of illegal software /* deletes deCSS archive and mirrors of Touretzsky's server from our quaint little dental office */ and other actions at our discretion. As you may know /* I think I read this somewhere */, it is against the law to knowingly threaten legal actions with no intent on following through on them. /* Barratry? In terrorem? Something... */ Please be sure to come out and investigate us as soon as possible.

    Have fun!

    Rgds,
    Office of Dr. BillX, Family Dentistry

    PS. Please ignore guard dog and electrified doorhandle.

    (Enc: Cream cheese dildo and helpful usage suggestions.)

    --

  • by tb3 (313150) on Monday July 30, 2001 @11:37AM (#2182830) Homepage
    From the BSA website:
    Here are 10 reasons why companies should participate in BSA's Software Truce Campaign today:
    .
    .
    9. Proper software management saves time, money and makes employees more productive.
    8. Illegal software is one of the prime sources of computer viruses that can destroy your company's valuable data.
    7. Illegal software is more likely to fail, leaving your company's computers and their information useless.
    6. You can expect no warranties or support for illegal software and won't have access to inexpensive upgrades.

    Now, I agree that if you're going to use software that's licenced, you should pay for it, but these reasons are just asinine! I won't even bother tearing most of these apart, I leave that to a kindergarden class.

    90% of software 'copying' (I will not stoop to their level by calling it 'piracy') is using the same CD to install on multiple machines. Who are they trying to kid? Don't they realize it just makes their argument weaker?

  • by infinite9 (319274) on Monday July 30, 2001 @10:56AM (#2182836)

    I really hope companies will change to Open Source for its quality and stability and not because of BSAs tactics.

    Why is that so bad? Companies don't make software decisions based on coolness or justice. They make decisions based on the bottom line. How difficult software is to use equates to lost money in terms of man-hours and attrition. Difficulty in finding applications also equates to lost money in terms of man-hours in searching and/or consulting fees/salaries for writing their own. Companies choose microsoft software because it's cheap. It's cheap because you don't have to train people (very much) how to use it. Everyone writes applications for it. Hardware comes with it already installed, saving time. And businesses take the entire picture into consideration when considering the costs.

    But believe me, as soon as there's a perception that simply having microsoft software will create a bottom-line-related nightmare and possible litigation, companies will abandon it. Partially because it's free (beer), but mainly because it's free (liberty).

    That gives total cost of ownership a whole new meaning.

  • by flacco (324089) on Monday July 30, 2001 @12:02PM (#2182843)
    Did anyone else see the irony of an anti-piracy campaign going around and scaring people and threating them with suprise raids unless given money? We live in a strange world, methinks.

    Yeah, no kidding. They should have started out the letter with:

    "AVAST, YE SCURVY DOGS:"

  • by Richthofen80 (412488) on Monday July 30, 2001 @12:28PM (#2182848) Homepage
    I work at a small business (under seven full time people) and I do the admin'ing for the six machines there, while also working in the shop.

    My boss insisted after getting a letter from the BSA that I make sure "all software was compliant". Needless to say my boss has no idea how these things work, so I ended up being able to let him buy very expensive applications like photoshop.

    The fines the BSA threatens are ridiculous, like in the hundreds of thousands. That would be our entire company's monthly income. My boss made sure that I made sure that we had all legit software.

    I tried making a movement to open source apps here at work, because everyone kept opening VBscript viruses and such and making a whole lot more work for me that I wanted. However, My boss refused. It took our secretary, my boss, and a few others months just to learn windows, and they can't escape the idea that files on the desktop actually exist in a folder called "desktop" in the windows directory. So, it's free software but everyone knows learning curves aren't cheap.

  • by gnovos (447128) <(ten.deppihc) (ta) (sovong)> on Monday July 30, 2001 @10:39AM (#2182860) Homepage Journal
    Did anyone else see the irony of an anti-piracy campaign going around and scaring people and threating them with suprise raids unless given money? We live in a strange world, methinks.

  • by Silver222 (452093) on Monday July 30, 2001 @11:11AM (#2182868)
    To be sure, piracy results in major losses of revenue for the software industry. According to the BSA, $2.94 billion was lost to piracy in North America alone last year, while $11.75 billion was lost to it globally for the same period. But so far this year, those figures have declined.

    I remember something from my freshman English professor. She told us to avoid using the phrase "To be sure," in an article, because that meant you might as well say, "I'm full of bullshit, please believe me."

    Piracy does not result in a loss of revenue, because many of those people aren't going to buy the product anyways. I know a lot of people who would switch to StarOffice if it wasn't so easy to get Office for nothing. It's the same problem that comes up every time there is an article in the newsmedia about the RIAA or the MPAA. I'm not sure what a better term for it would be, perhaps unrealized potential revenues? It's not a loss though. Check their income statement, no item for "Losses due to piracy."

    Forgive me for not trusting the BSA for the stats on that either. That's like getting your lung cancer stats from Philip Morris.

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