CyberTech Rambler

June 20, 2006

How to prove your software is legal?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:56 am

James Gaskins of NetworkWorld has a chilling article about the barrier to Business Software Alliance (BSA) makes you jump through to prove that your software is legal.

Most people believe that having the original disk, authentication paper (with hologram) is not good enough, it is not to BSA. Their argument is you could had bought the software after the threat of an audit, not before the audit and therefore had pirated the software.

Notwithstanding the fact that I think the reason for an audit is to encourage users to take remedial action to become legal software users, after all, to err is human. But the burden of proof BSA required is ricdiculously high: Invoice must have the correct company's name on, must be dated, the product listed, and the version and the amount paid stated. The chilling effect this has is that even big companies, such as Dell or Sony, did not give its customers the correct documentation to defend them against BSA's claim.

Moreover, BSA's requirement that th correct company name must be on the invoice is also inconsistent with a lot of software licensing that allows transfer of software from one legal entity  to another, provided that the seller do not keep a copy of the software (which is fair).

Having an audit turn out that one or two copies of software is illegal is not that unusual, especially in a company that uses 1000+ pieces of software. According to the article, because BSA is funded partly by the fine it collects, there is no incentive to correct/forgive the one or two illegal copy, but to fine the companies. The sad fact is, while I do not think BSA's required burden of proof will stand up in court, I am sure they amount of fine they "imposed" is the best way out economically speaking.

Hence, if what Mr Gaskin reports is true, it is indeed a software protection racket. 


1 Comment »

  1. […] BSA argues that it is not looking for punitive damages but simply want the ablity to get companies who come clean to pay more than simply the cost of getting their license uptodate, as they should had done in the first place. Sounds fair? No, because if this is the aim, they should simply ask for award of administrative cost to cover BSA’s work in uncovering the licensing problem, not a carte blanche where it can choose to claim whatever it wants. This additional cost award will be in the spirit of existing legislation and probably do not require amending existing legislation AND besides acheiving what BSA wants. Moreover, what they ask for seriously looks like smuggling punitive damage into the law. Why? Because BSA can go to court and claim whatever it wants, however ricdiculous and frivolous. The potential cost of litigation will force companies to settle and pay the “punitive damage” BSA wants. This turns BSA into the judge, jury and executioner, precisely the thing every judicial system seek to avoid for thousands of years. BSA USA had shown that they will not hesitate to do so, so why should we trust BSA UK? […]

    Pingback by Stiffer penalty for using illegal software « CyberTech Rambler — September 1, 2006 @ 12:41 pm | Reply

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