The Business Software Alliance (BSA), the voice of the world's commercial software industry, has reached a settlement with Author Solutions of Bloomington, IN. Author Solutions paid BSA $50,000 for having unlicensed copies of Adobe, Microsoft, and Symantec software installed on its computers. As part of the settlement agreement, the company agreed to delete all unlicensed copies of software installed on its computers, acquire any licenses necessary to become compliant and commit to implementing stronger software license management practices.
Author Solutions is a company providing self-publishing services to authors and which has developed publishing services platforms that enable publishers, retailers, communities and printers to become publishers. The company has worked with 50,000 authors and approximately 80,000 titles. The company has offices in Indiana and an international branch in the UK.
"Even though these infringements occurred in one of our companies prior to our ownership, we cooperated with the BSA to get this matter resolved and are committed to making sure the appropriate licensed software is used in all Author Solutions companies," said Kevin Weiss, President and CEO of Author Solutions.
"BSA's settlement with Author Solutions illustrates that even a well-managed, reputable company needs to be fully attentive to software licensing requirements," said Neil MacBride, BSA's Vice President of Anti-Piracy and General Counsel. "It's necessary for businesses to purchase licenses for all software installed on their computers. They need to pay as careful attention to their software management as they do to other aspects of their business. The lesson can sometimes be a hard one: it's cheaper to purchase legal software and invest in software management than get caught by the BSA."
BSA was alerted to the unlicensed software use by a confidential report made to BSA's hotline, 1-888 NO PIRACY. Each year, BSA receives nearly 3,000 reports of software piracy to its website, www.nopiracy.com, and hotline. The majority of BSA's leads come from current or former employees who had information relating to the unlicensed software activity.
Know it / Report it / Reward it
Under BSA's "Know it, Report it, Reward it" program, individuals who provide qualified reports of software piracy are eligible to receive up to $1 million in a cash reward. Despite BSA's national Rewards Program offering this cash reward for qualifying reports of software piracy, fewer than half of the sources opt for the reward. Informal studies conducted by BSA suggest that a key driver for reporting software piracy is the motivation simply to "do the right thing."
"When I contacted BSA, I was simply looking to do the right thing," said an individual who previously reported software piracy to the BSA via the Web reporting form. "I'm just glad there's a resource for people to turn to in order to report software piracy."
In a report released in July which focused on piracy in eight states across the U.S., it was found that software piracy cost software vendors an estimated $4.2 billion, which is higher than the national figure for all other countries in the world except China. Lost revenues to software distributors and service providers were an additional $11.4 billion, for a total tech industry loss of more than $15 billion. Software piracy also has ripple effects in local communities. The lost revenues to the wider group of software distributors and service providers ($11.4 billion) would have been enough to hire 54,000 high tech industry workers, while the lost state and local tax revenues ($1.7 billion) would have been enough to build 100 middle schools or 10,800 affordable housing units, or hire nearly 25,000 experienced police officers. *
"The United States may have the lowest PC software piracy rate in the world, but still, one out of every five pieces of software put into service is unlicensed," said MacBride. "Not only is this a problem for the software industry, but piracy also creates major legal and security risks for the companies involved. The saddest aspect is that the lost revenues to tech companies and local governments could be supporting thousands of good jobs and much-needed social services in our communities," he said.
Under US copyright laws, software piracy can result in fines of up to $150,000 for each software title copied. In addition, the government can criminally prosecute for copyright infringement. If convicted, violators can be fined up to $250,000 or given a jail term of up to five years, or both. These are not just idle threats. Federal judges are increasingly showing little tolerance for the theft of intellectual property, handing down large damage awards against software pirates. This past March, Maurice A. Robberson, and his brother Thomas K. Robberson, were sentenced to federal prison for managing several for-profit websites and selling more than $6 million in pirated computer software. Both were sentenced to a collective 66 months in prison and given an additional three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution.
BSA works with businesses to help ensure that their company isn't at risk for financial, technical, and legal risks associated with illegal software. In addition to resources provided on www.bsa.org, BSA is working with the Small Business Administration to help small businesses develop smart strategies to manage their software. Through the partnership, BSA will educate up to 100,000 small businesses on software licenses, copyright laws, tips on how to purchase safe and legal software online, and how to develop a Software Asset Management program.
Businesses trying to determine whether their organizations are using unlicensed software can download the free software audit tools at www.bsaaudit.com.