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Is the Business Software Alliance really having an impact on software piracy? Do they often punish businesses that are trying to play by the rules?
Amongst many IT organizations around the world, the Business Software Alliance's (BSA) three-letter acronym can be akin to a four-letter word. Known best as the software licensing watchdog for 30 major technology vendors including Microsoft, Adobe, AutoDesk and Apple, this hard-line enforcement agency collects millions of dollars in damages each year from errant businesses who fail to use properly licensed software or document that their software was legit.
2008 marks the group's 20th anniversary. But after two decades, questions remain: Is the BSA really having an impact on software piracy? Do they often punish businesses that may be trying to play by the rules? And, are software vendors themselves contributing to the piracy morass with complex, convoluted licensing terms?
Operating out of three offices worldwide, Washington, D.C., London and Singapore, the BSA has garnered some praise from analysts and experts for its efforts to stem piracy around the world, but many businesspeople say that it comes at too high a cost. Critics slam the group for its aggressive pursuit of well-meaning organizations, particularly small and unsophisticated businesses with few resources to track software assets or seek legal counsel.
A recent Associated Press story highlighted the fact that 90 percent of the $13m collected by the BSA in 2006 came from small businesses. Its policy makers use the funds it squeezes from businesses to bankroll its lobbying efforts to promote a host of legislation and regulations that favor its members' business interests, leading some to question motives for enforcement.
Source: Baseline, http://www.baselinemag.com
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