Business Software Alliance Increases Efforts in Campaign against Software Piracy

9 Jul, 2008

Organization expands promotion of its Know it / Report it / Reward it campaign, which offers rewards to individuals who report incidents.

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) yesterday announced that it will increase its efforts to shine a brighter light on software piracy, which the organization reports is a serious problem that hurts the U.S. economy, eliminates jobs, damages local industries, and cost the United States more than $8 billion in 2007 alone.

The Know it / Report it / Reward it campaign will include coordinated online and radio ads, research reports, and other activities that will remind individuals with detailed information about software piracy that they have a resource through which to come forward and confidentially report the infringement(s) to BSA. Individuals who provide qualified reports of software piracy to BSA are eligible to receive up to a $1 million cash reward. BSA first launched its rewards program in 2005 to encourage individuals with detailed information about software piracy to report the incidents. BSA increased its rewards incentive from $200,000 to $1 million in July 2007.

"BSA has been shining a light on software piracy for more than a decade, and today, that light is about to get much brighter," said Neil MacBride, BSA's vice-president of antipiracy and general counsel. "While much progress has been made to reduce software piracy, more work needs to be done. One out of every five pieces of software used in the United States today is pirated. This is unacceptable. If one in five cars driven on the streets were stolen, it would not be tolerated. Stealing software is no different. This campaign will put businesses and consumers on high alert that BSA is intensifying its efforts to reduce software piracy."

"The Million Dollar Rewards campaign has been successful in driving awareness of software piracy," added MacBride. "We've also learned over the past year that many of the reports are from individuals who are more interested in doing the right thing than in receiving a cash reward. In fact, nearly 50 percent of individuals reporting piracy to BSA choose not to participate in the rewards program. Many of the reports come from individuals who recognize and respect the importance of intellectual property and simply do it because it's the right thing to do."

Of those who received rewards during the past year, 88% reported the illegal software use in their current or former workplaces via BSA's online reporting form with the remaining 12% submitting a report via BSA's toll free hotline, 1-888-NO PIRACY.

Later this month, BSA will release state piracy reports for the six states that provide the most piracy leads to BSA, which include New York, Texas, California, Ohio, Florida, and Illinois. In addition, BSA will announce settlements with several companies recently caught using pirated software in these states. Later this year, BSA will offer businesses new resources to help them ensure software compliance.

In the United States, businesses large and small face serious legal and financial risks because of software piracy, including fines of up to $150,000 for each infringement. Federally prosecuted copyright infringement cases can result in fines of as much as $250,000 and, in some cases, jail time.

Many businesses do not have a full understanding of the software in use within their organization and have inadequate controls to ensure lawful software use. BSA points out that lack of controls is not an excuse and that businesses must create, communicate, and enforce an effective software asset management (SAM) program. Businesses can download a variety of free basic SAM tools from BSA's Web site. Free tools include a guide to software management, a sample employee policy on software management, a companion employee memorandum, workroom posters, best practices, resources, and tips for staying legal. Businesses trying to determine whether their organization is using unlicensed software can also download free software audit tools from the same site.