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Get to Know the Business Software Alliance4 min read

Your company’s offices are furnished with computers and other devices. The need for the appropriate software for each desktop can become overwhelming. Not to mention very expensive. As a business owner, you know that it’s wrong to abuse the software licenses, or worse, use pirated software to fulfill your employees work functions. It’s an unfortunate fact that there are businesses that go around software companies to save a few dollars on various programs. Software companies have created a system to catch those companies that abuse or steal software licenses.

Before we begin, need to say that we do not support the practice of abusing software licenses, software piracy, or the use of pirated software. In turn, we also do not condone the tactics used by software companies to fight piracy. The most famous example and the one we will be talking about is the Business Software Alliance, or, BSA.

Who is the Business Software Alliance?

The Business Software Alliance is an international advocacy group that fights software piracy. Its primary focus is software for business purposes. Members of this group include many well-known names in tech, including IBM, Adobe, Trend Micro, Apple, and Microsoft. The BSA’s purpose, according to the website, is “pioneers compliance programs that promote legal software use and advocates for public policies that foster technology innovation and drive growth in the digital economy.”
As an IT company, this is mission we can stand behind. Legal software use is not only ethical, but it also promotes safe computer practices. Pirated software can leave your computer and network vulnerable to attack. You also will not get the support and proper updates from the software company. The tactics the BSA uses to fight piracy are not as admirable as the mission comes across.

Bribing Target Audience Through Social Media

The BSA targets businesses that are “under suspicion” of using illegal software or abusing licenses. To get on this list, they need a reason to suspect your business. And to do this, the BSA takes advantage of social media.
By using marketing platforms on various social media sites, the BSA directly targeted their audience. Anyone who turned over a business that was using pirated software could collect a cash reward. There is a now abandoned Facebook page that provides evidence of who the BSA was explicitly targeting: employees the Business Software Alliance was investigating. Who else would know whether a business was using illegal software than the employees themselves?
You may be familiar with an advertisement by the BSA with the tagline “Nail your boss. Report software piracy.” It’s a straightforward message. Social media has allowed the BSA to be more specific and target on employees like yours. They encourage your employees to turn you in for, what they believe to be, software piracy in exchange for a cash bounty.
Though a cash payout entices employees to turn you in potentially, the BSA “reserves the right to deviate from that schedule in its sole discretion.” This means that an employee can turn you over, your company pays a hefty fine, and the BSA collects the money and decides not to pay the whistleblower.

Why worry about the Business Software Alliance?

Using pirated software is a crime, and if you are caught, you will pay the price for it. The cost of doing this is apparent. The threat of the BSA coming after you only adds to the punishment. As a business owner, whether you are responsible for the illegal software being on your system or not, you are held accountable. This also includes using the same software license on multiple devices within your organization.
It’s not just current employees who can report you to the BSA. An ex-employee could still have a grudge against your company and report you. They get a cash reward and the opportunity to see you get in trouble.

Avoid the Threat of the Business Software Alliance

The best way to avoid the threat of having an employee report you to the BSA is clear: don’t have pirated or unlicensed software on your network. The best way to achieve this is to perform an audit of all software in use in your organization. You can identify and eliminate any software that would draw the attention of the BSA. If at any point the BSA were to stop by your company, you could be confident that nothing will get you in trouble.
For help with this audit and the removal of any unlicensed software there may be on your network, give IT Support Guys a call at 855-4IT-GUYS (855-448-4897).

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Ben Jones

Ben Jones

Technical writer Living in Tampa, FL. Originally from Indiana. In my free time, I cook, play golf, stay active (either outside or at the gym) and patiently waiting for the next Star Wars movie.

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