Software Piracy: Ignore Those No Piracy Ads

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Who’s Running These Ads?

Have you ever seen an advertisement on Facebook like the one above? I have, and I’ve always enjoyed the loads of comments that come along with them. The company behind these ads is BSA | Software Alliance and they’ve been at the forefront of the software piracy battle for years.

Reporting Software Piracy is Completely Confidential (except when…)

In their FAQ, BSA says that your name will never be revealed outside of BSA unless the law requires them to do so. You could conceivably end up in court as a key witness if you report your employer for software piracy. There’s no guarantee that you’ll remain anonymous which brings me to my next point…

Your Career Could be in Jeopardy if you Report Software Piracy

Without a guarantee of anonymity, you should expect the company to find out who reported them. Even if you don’t lose your job, they might make your life miserable enough to leave.

There’s Always a Catch — They’re Not Obligated to Give You Any Reward

It probably goes without saying that you can only earn money if BSA collects from a company you report. BSA also only goes after companies for software piracy, not individuals which is a telling policy itself. Companies are where the money is — think of BSA as the accident lawyers of the digital world.

BSA reward guidelines from their site as of 09–28–2017

Software Piracy vs. Unlicensed Software

If there’s one thing that burns me with BSA’s approach, it’s their willful ignorance of the difference between software piracy and unlicensed software. Both terms represent usage of software without paying for it, but that’s all the two have in common.

Reporting Unlicensed Software The Right Way

Your first step should be to just report unlicensed software to the IT Department. Every company I’ve worked for resolved their licensing issues as soon as it was brought to their attention. If you work in the IT Department, bring it to the attention of your manager or director.

The Takeaway

Reporting software violations to an outside agency is a recipe for disaster. It can stall your career, especially if you’re an IT professional. The little bit of coin you might pull in from BSA could be more trouble than it’s worth. And let’s face the reality: if your employer is using illegal software, knows about it, and isn’t taking action to correct it, then it’s time for you to get out of there anyway. In either case, leave BSA out of it.

IT Geek, Guitarist for Liquifaction, Running Enthusiast, Business Owner, Consultant, DIYer, Free Think… I do it all.