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Software Anti-Piracy Efforts Target Small Business

Why are the big software companies going after small businesses for software piracy? Because they can!
Why are the big software companies going after small businesses for software piracy? Because they can!According to an AP article released today, "the Business Software Alliance, the main global copyright-enforcement watchdog for such companies as Microsoft Corp., Adobe Systems Inc. and Symantec Corp." got 90% of it's anti-piracy settlements from small businesses.

It seems that the software companies are taking a page from the record industry's disastrous campaign against its best customers. Instead of making it easy for small businesses to comply with the byzantine software licenses, "the BSA amasses most of its bounties from small businesses because they have fewer technological, organizational and legal resources to avoid a run-in."

Author Brian Bergstein quotes Barbara Rembiesa, head of the International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers, who complains, "If they were going after actual pirates, that would be a different story, but they're going after hardworking companies."

The real problem, apparently, is that it's very difficult to understand typical software license agreements, much less comply with them. Bergstein also posted a piece on that topic, arguing that "the industry's best hope for reducing piracy rests with anti-copying technologies rather than in policing the legalistic user agreements that restrict how software can be used."

The software industry remains unrepentant about putting the anti-piracy onus on customers and its enforcement policies: "[The BSA] says software licenses aren't as difficult as many users contend. It has dropped an amnesty campaign for businesses. And this year it began dangling rewards of up to $1 million to disgruntled employees who anonymously report their bosses for using counterfeit or unlicensed software."

With all that going on, it may make sense to ask yourself a few questions:

Is your company in compliance with all its software licenses?

Is what the BSA doing fair?

What's the best solution to this problem?

And if you've had any "experiences" with the BSA, I'd like to hear about it.

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Kirsten Powell, Senior Manager for Security & Risk Management at Adobe
Joshua Goldfarb, Director of Product Management at F5