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Software Piracy At the Workplace?

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the anonymous-call-to-the-bsa dept.

Businesses 1006

An anonymous reader writes "What does one do when a good portion of the application software at your workplace is pirated? Bringing this up did not endear me at all to the president of the company. I was given a flat 'We don't pirate software,' and 'We must have paid for it at some point.' Given that I was only able to find one burnt copy of Office Pro with a Google-able CD-Key, and that version of Office is on at least 20 computers, I'm not convinced. Some of the legit software in the company has been installed on more than one computer, such as Adobe Acrobat. Nevertheless I have been called on to install dubious software on multiple occasions. As for shareware, what strategies do you use to convince management to allow the purchase of commonly used utilities? If an installation of WinZip reports thousands of uses, I think the software developer deserves a bit o' coin for it. When I told management that WinZip has a timeout counter that counts off one second per file previously opened, they tried to implement a policy of wait for it, do something else, and come back later, rather than spend the money. Also, some software is free for home and educational use only, like AVG Free. What do you when management ignores this?"

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Bide your time (5, Insightful)

Dunkirk (238653) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088478)

Do what you're told. Look for another job.

Re:Bide your time (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088504)

Do what you're told. Look for another job.

Be a good little wage slave and don't get uppity and challenge your masters until you find new masters. Or call the BSA [bsa.org] . Of course if you're going to do that, better not to identify yourself by bringing your concern to management first.

What do you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088740)

Information wants to be free!!

Re:Bide your time (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088510)

Yeah, if you don't like it, get another job. But I promise you won't get far up the corporate ladder with the do-good attitude you've got. Even though it's technically right, you gotta play by their rules, or find somebody who plays by yours.

Re:Bide your time (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088668)

So, it's okay for people to not say anything about corporate software piracy (hundreds if not thousands of dollars), but if you pirate a game for home use (around 60 dollars) or pirate a single song you're supposed to shut your mouth, end up in court and pay millions in damages?

Talk about double standards.

Other professions have liabilities and so should IT.

Re:Bide your time (1)

AtomicOrange (1667101) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088912)

I agree, this double standard between industry and the home user has to stop. IT professionals should stand up and notify their companies when there may be questions as to the validity of software.

How liable is the IT professional if that organization comes in a does an audit and finds the company with numerous violations? Does the IT guy get held responsible?

Re:Bide your time (1)

RichardJenkins (1362463) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088952)

Most companies I've worked for expend considerable resource in keeping track of licences, it is worth it to mitigate the expense of being caught with your pants down. Nuisance though, for sure.

Re:Bide your time (1, Insightful)

precariousgray (1663153) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088580)

Don't forget to call the police when you do find a new job, to slap them with a great-big I-told-you-so.

Re:Bide your time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088746)

This is a civil matter not a criminal one

Re:Bide your time (3, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088604)

Sorry but thats pretty crappy advice. He should be recommending free alternatives, not jumping ship. He should also expect to see some license irregularities time from time, especially in small business. He should bring this up, with the working alternatives. If you quit every job with a challenge then you'll end up no where.

Re:Bide your time (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088744)

Licensing irregularities are one thing(if nothing else, actually keeping track of licences for a nontrivial number of applications across a nontrivial number of clients is not easy unless you have a real system in place). I'd be more concerned about the CEO's "Golly shucks, we couldn't possibly be doing the wrong thing, even though you present compelling evidence from your area of professional experience that we are." attitude. It's even or worse odds that a guy like that will stonewall you relentlessly to save a nickel, then fuck you over to save himself it that ever becomes a problem.

Re:Bide your time (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088924)

Exactly. If the "software police" ever file charges against your employer they will point to you as the person who did this and they had no clue. CYA. Find a job and move on as quick as you can. Otherwise you are the scapegoat. Don't laugh either as this happened to a close friend of mine in IT. When you do get another job turn em in. That is my advice. LOL. They were going to screw you if they needed to so give it to them.

Re:Bide your time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088606)

Yep. You work for a bad company with incompetent management.

Part of your job as an admin is to make sure you're licensed properly, or the company will end up paying money, probably millions.

Even if it's not a publicly traded company, your co-workers will end up being hurt.

Re:Bide your time (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088628)

Find another job, while documenting everything you have. Tell your new employer, flatly, that you feel you're working in an ethicsless stability hell-hole that could be sued into the ground at any point, and that you've brought up numerous internal illegal activities to upper management repeatedly and they've flatly denied it or told you to ignore it. Be prepared to justify the extent of the behavior as far-reaching, and clarify the intent of continued behavior at all levels of management. Be prepared not to be hired by shady companies, and to be immediately hired on by companies that hire specific licensing compliance personnel to do their own internal audits (yes, companies actually search themselves for illegal use of products so they can determine business advantage to using them and either ban their use or obtain the proper license).

Get Out. Sleep Better. (5, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088736)

Don't think that the company president who "didn't know he was using pirated software" won't serve you up as the sacrificial lamb to the Powers That Be in a heartbeat when some disgruntled ex-employee rats to the BSA. At that point, you'll be out of a job the hard way, with the kind of black stain on a record that no young IT guy wants to have.

I don't have all the answers for you, but... (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088864)

I don't have all the answers for you, but at least try not use shareware. Try to use freeware [snapfiles.com] if you can help it. For instance, WinZip used to be good may be ten years ago, but now there are many much better, and easier to use, freeware alternatives (thought, out of all those candidates, you'll have to read their licenses to make sure the one you select is pure freeware. These days, there are many shareware programs that falsely advertise themselves as freeware).

Put this as the boss' start-up. (0)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088512)

Have this video play every time the boss logs in -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=up863eQKGUI [youtube.com]

Best to do it in the registry and not the start-up folder because most users have no clue how to stop something from running when it's in the registry.

Re:Put this as the boss' start-up. (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088692)

How 'bout the IT Crowd piracy ad [youtube.com] ? Too bad it's only for movies...

P.S. It's just a small business, give 'em a break. If they don't care that they are breaking the law, why should you?

Since you brought it up... You're liable (3, Informative)

charleste (537078) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088518)

Unfortunately ignorance of the law is no defense. The same is true for not saying anything when you witness a crime being committed. It's called obstruction. So, CYA: leave the company as soon as you can. Assume you WILL be held accountable in the future.

Re:Since you brought it up... You're liable (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088608)

Document everything and call the BSA otherwise you could be thrown under the bus.

https://reporting.bsa.org/usa/home.aspx

Re:Since you brought it up... You're liable (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088610)

Incorrect, in numerous states you are not legally required to act when witnessing a crime. I know was the case in Nevada, your state may vary.

Contact the BSA & request an audit (2, Informative)

mandark1967 (630856) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088530)

They have a rewards program that will pay you money for turning in your company.

Contact the BSA AFTER you secure other employment (4, Insightful)

OmniGeek (72743) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088618)

The ethical thing to do at this stage in the game is to drop a dime on'em. The sensible thing to do is to ensure that you still have an income afterwards. Count on the boss finding out and retaliating; whether that is illegal or not, factor that into your plans.

Re:Contact the BSA AFTER you secure other employme (1)

QuasiEvil (74356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088784)

I agree - ethical, legal, or not, they'll find a way to get rid of you. Or at least make working there so intolerable you quit (better for them, btw, so I'd expect this). So secure another job or be ready to tough it out until you do.

But yes, as much as I hate them, it's time to document, document, document and then call the BSA. Your business is blatantly violating licensing terms. Declaring compliance by fiat - aka, "we don't pirate software, therefore violating the license terms isn't piracy" - is somewhat like trying to declare yourself a virgin when you're already pregnant.

Re:Contact the BSA & request an audit (2, Insightful)

SpuriousLogic (1183411) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088660)

Just report it. The burned hand teaches best. Think how pissed your president would be if he found out the software his company built was being pirated. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Re:Contact the BSA & request an audit (4, Informative)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088694)

Yep, do it. Take the money as a little reward for dong the right thing..

What will happen to the company is: Microsoft will send a letter to the CEO informing him that they will be performing an audit, that they are entitled to do as he is running some form of Microsoft software (I doubt they need to check that's true). Then they will tell him that he needs to run audit software in the company and send the results to MS, and that they know of a few companies who will perform this audit for a reasonable fee, and no, running it all yourself of not acceptable.

Once he's done that, they will check how many licences they think the company needs to become 'compliant' and demand proof they have that many purchased. At this point, they also offer to bill for unlicenced software that accidentally or mistakenly was installed.

End result: the company pays to audit itself, and pays MS for a load of licences. Usually they end up paying extra for things people have installed but never use any more.

They're quite nice about it, if that help any.

Dob them in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088538)

Dob them in for $5,000 a shot.

It's anonymous.

Meanwhile, look for another job.

But you've pointed it out, you've tried to do the right thing and the only thing left to fix the company system is to find and install legit free software.

If they refuse even that, look for a job and cash in what you know.

Report them to the Software Business Alliance (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088544)

Then when they fire you, sue as a whistle-blower, take all their money, and shut the crooks down.

Your answer is at http://www.monster.com (3, Insightful)

Art Popp (29075) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088546)

I can see two honorable paths here:

        You can find them FOSS substitutes for their existing software.

        You can find another job.

If you want to be optimistic you can stand your ground with the managers and state: "I will not install software unless I'm certain we have a proper license for it." And see if they show you the door, or attempt to find some kind of compromise. People that take the time to look seriously at Open Office often like what they find. So there is a slim hope, but odds are, these are not the class of people you want to make a career with, and you'll be happier working somewhere that ethical compromises are not a daily expectation.

It's funny, isn't it... (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088558)

For most purposes, reasonably people look at the available data first and then infer a conclusion. When it comes to "moral" matters, though, you get a certain subset of people who work in the opposite direction.

Instead of saying "Well, I do seem to be surrounded by CD-R copies of commercial software activated with leaked VLKs, I must be a dirty pirate." they say "I'm obviously a good person, and good people don't do bad things, therefore the things that I have done could not possibly be bad."

This would be merely harmless idiocy, were it not for the fact that most of those people are completely wrong.

recommend free alternatives (5, Informative)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088564)

Security essentials is free for business, so replace AVG with that:

http://www.microsoft.com/Security_Essentials/ [microsoft.com]

7Zip is free and OSS. Replace Winzip with that. Heck, XP has its own zip handler installed. A lot of techies assumed that XP needs a zip program because 2000 didnt have one. Get rid of it.

http://www.7-zip.org/ [7-zip.org]

PDFCreator is free and OSS. It can make PDFs. Most people just need to make them, not 'edit' them.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/ [sourceforge.net]

Re:recommend free alternatives (1)

rcb1974 (654474) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088616)

Mod parent up. 7-zip is a lot better than WinZIP and 7-zip is free software.

Re:recommend free alternatives (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088698)

Ghostview is also a nice free (as in beer) and OSS package for creating PDFs.

Re:recommend free alternatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088834)

peazip is another good zip alternative

Re:recommend free alternatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088942)

PDFCreator is free and OSS. It can make PDFs. Most people just need to make them, not 'edit' them.

If you do need to annotate them then Xournal [sourceforge.net] works fairly well. I often use it to fill out PDF rebate forms and such before printing them.

True PDF editing software is hard to come by. Inkscape [inkscape.org] can sometimes make a PDF editable but it's hit-or-miss depending on the content.

Re:recommend free alternatives (1)

wmpp (219151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088954)

Security essentials is free for business, so replace AVG with that:

http://www.microsoft.com/Security_Essentials/ [microsoft.com]

FYI, Security Essentials is only free for home-based businesses.

Re:recommend free alternatives (1)

Dunx (23729) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088966)

There are problems with the XP zip handler - not on expand, but on create: it doesn't put files prefixed with a '.' into the archive. This is utterly disastrous if you are trying to archive an Eclipse workspace, for example. So a third party tool is essential for anything dev-related, I would argue.

7-Zip is a good tool, as you say. I also quite like zip/unzip on the Cygwin command line.

Well... (4, Insightful)

scubamage (727538) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088574)

For utilities like winzip, replace them with open source stuff like 7zip. Explain that it's ok to be used for commercial use, and it avoids annoying licensing costs. As for the other stuff, shoot an email to your management about it and print it out. If they refuse to listen, at least you have a hard copy on record showing that you tried to warn them. Then, if anything ever happens legally you've tried to notify them and you can't get canned. If they do, they'll have a hefty wrongful termination lawsuit on their hands. If it really bothers you, find a new job and call the BSA. Tattletale. :-P

get another job (4, Insightful)

Trailer Trash (60756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088576)

If they're dishonest in one area, well, they're dishonest, period. You'll get dicked over if you stay there. Frankly, I have no qualms about calling the BSA about places like this....

Re:get another job (0)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088624)

Mod parent insightful.

Re:get another job (0, Flamebait)

cromar (1103585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088738)

It's people like you that brighten up the world. Obviously they pirate software, so they must be Satanist baby murderers. String 'em up! Ratting out a small business to the BSA is an incredibly cowardly act.

Re:get another job (2, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088812)

So is not paying for software.

If you are willing to steal from other companies, pirate software, etc., and openly lie about it, then chances are you don't particularly care about your customer, either. You care literally only about money, apparently.

I don't think that means what you think it means (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088886)

Sorry, I don't understand you. You were trying to explain how endangering one's job to avoid engaging in unethical behavior is a cowardly thing to do?

undoing redundant mod (2, Insightful)

BitterAndDrunk (799378) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088814)

interface is shit

Document Everything (2, Insightful)

kid_oliva (899189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088578)

Document everything and then turn them in. Of course the previous look for another job applies as well.

Dont be a shady nigger (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088586)

Grow some balls and call them out on it!

Report them (1)

gregthebunny (1502041) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088588)

Anonymously to the BSA [bsa.org] . And start looking for a new job.

Re:Report them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088638)

Don't report them anonymously or you won't get paid

Change in some Policies (1, Informative)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088590)

First off, you shouldn't need to use Winzip, every computer since like Windows 95 has had its own method of compression to send files. Toss that out, and just use the right click "Send to compressed (zip) folder".

Secondly, If your boss is saying that you had to have paid for software at one point, tell him that you're going to have to buy licenses for each time that software is used.

This means that either
A) Your IT Budget is going way up
or
B) Other Departments are going to have to expense their own software, and you just aid in the installation and support.

If your IT Manager is content with what software you've got going on, either knowing full well that its trial version or doesn't care, than its really not your place to challenge that, and you go with it.

If YOU are the IT Manager, you need to get some backbone and tell the Chief that you are at serious risk of lawsuit.

Re:Change in some Policies (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088806)

Other Departments are going to have to expense their own software, and you just aid in the installation and support.

In which case your budget is still going to go way up because instead of a volume license for Office (can be installed on a number of machines, installation can be scripted, a master copy can be stored on a server somewhere, can use the same key on all the machines) you'll get a couple of dozen boxed copies (to which none of the above applies).

Different Approach (5, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088598)

Instead of accsing the company of piracy (even if they're guilty), use another approach.

Say, I'm concerned that renewing future licenses will be very expensive. Say, the 1,000 copies of Winzip at $30 each is $30,000. 7-zip is a free alternative that actually works better, and will save the company $30,000 the new time those licenses need to be renewed. Alnd OpenOffice saves $400 per license over MS Office. OpenOffice comes with free PDF export functionality, which saves the $500 Acrobat license.

You may get approval to install free, legal alternatives and get rid of the pirated software. Even better, instead of being seen as the problem (the person who has a moral objection to their piracy), you'll be seen as a solution.

Re:Different Approach (5, Interesting)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088664)

Or, if you are in a position of relative authority (and not as afraid of getting canned) you can quote the $250,000 fines the BSA can assess PER VIOLATION and tell them it would greatly behoove themselves to switch to FOSS alternatives and cover their ass.

Re:Different Approach (1, Troll)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088892)

Alnd OpenOffice saves $400 per license over MS Office

And how much is lost in productivity, retraining staff, converting between formats, and the pointy headed boss calling you every 2 minutes because Clippy doesn't help him compose his letters anymore ?

Free software is only free if your time is valueless.

Re:Different Approach (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088920)

Free software is only free if your time is valueless.

Sometimes I agree with that. But except for powerpoint vs. impress, openoffice is pretty good and not a difficult switch. In my experience, of course. and if the boss needs ppt, buy one copy of it... most employees won't need it though (except maybe a viewer, which is free).

Love em or hate em... (1)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088614)

If piracy is really that bad -> https://reporting.bsa.org/usa/home.aspx

It is what they are there for.

Could OP (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088626)

Quit the company. Get an attorney. Claim there is a hostile environment because you know they are breaking laws and you are asked to break the laws too, and then report the company to BSA and sue them? (for the hostile work environment)

7-zip FTW? (1)

swb311 (1165753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088630)

Seriously, 7-zip is not only free, but in many aspects faster and better than WinZip.

Live with it or find another job (4, Insightful)

asmussen (2306) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088632)

In office environments like this, management's stand is very unlikely to change. Trying to change their minds will be an exercise in futility, so you need to just focus your decision making on whether or not you are willing to stick around and be a part of it, or would rather look for another job.

Winzip? Replace it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088648)

With 7-zip [7-zip.org] . Consider making a donation too, of course.

This is a serious problem (1)

mewsenews (251487) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088656)

You have to go legit. There are small things you can do to help bring them in compliance, like install 7-zip rather than WinZip, but it's damning that you've been ignored by management after mentioning the problem.

I'd feel better reading about your situation if management had said "yeeeah, it's a big problem, we're working towards being legit". Bald faced denial means you have to get the hell out of there.

You are going to have to find another job. After you're out of there, you can forget all about it or report them to the BSA based on how big a dick you want to be. I'd usually never advise reporting a company to the BSA but if they've basically forced you out of your job I think it would be fair play.

Piracy without guns and ships? (4, Interesting)

Statecraftsman (718862) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088666)

I started this post with the idea that I would make a joke similar to what RMS says about piracy requiring guns and ships but when I stopped to think about the words pirate and piracy, it really is odd that they're used when software is executed outside the limits of a license. It's totally reasonable in the face of ridiculous license terms to want to get past all that and just use the software. That's why we've gone from no product keys to product keys to activation and now to automatic auditing like Windows Genuine Advantage. With invasive tools like WGA that can scan your system and send who-knows-what back to the developer even holding your system hostage against bug and security fixes, I'm starting to feel like piracy is closer to what's happening on the developer side of the equation. Just another reason to shift to free(as in freedom) software...

Re:Piracy without guns and ships? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088832)

Whatever you have to say to make yourself feel better for BREAKING LAWS by INFRINGING COPYRIGHT you self-righteous douche.

Signed,

Your not-so-friendly, ever-so-tired-of-people-whining-that-they-can't-get-everything-for-free content creator

rat them out! (1)

newdsfornerds (899401) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088670)

I was in this situation once and I flatly refused to install the unlicensed software. If you have mentioned the issue to management, they already see you as someone they can't trust. You may as well report them to https://reporting.bsa.org/usa/home.aspx [bsa.org] or the like, because your days are numbered at this company.

How much do you like your job? (1)

nweaver (113078) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088680)

If you don't like your job, get a new one and then as you leave, snitch to the BSA for the bounty money.

great argument for free software (2, Interesting)

mhamel (314503) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088684)

Offer a solution. If you go to your boss's office and tell him he is a thief he's not going to be happy. But if you get in there and offer a free alternative it should be a good way of bringing things up.

Openoffice can do the job if everybody switch together. 7-zip is a good replacement for winzip. I'm pretty sure lot's of software has free (like in open source) alternative. Try, you'll see where it lead you. :-)

Standard Reply (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088686)

Document, CYA, think about finding a new job (under the principle that this is one symptom of management that is likely poor in lots of ways).

Common cause of termination in bad startups (4, Informative)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088710)

A friend of mine was uncomfortable with using the pirated s/w at her company and so switched her computer and work products
from (pirated) Office to OpenOffice, (pirated) MatLab to Octave, and VBA to python. She also brought the overall issue up with the CEO, suggesting
that the company should pay for its payware, or switch to FOSS.

Needless to say, not long afterwards, she was terminated with some lame excuse but it's clear it was for not being a "team player".

The 95% of the technology startups in our town are laughingly underfunded
(e.g. reverse mortgage on CEO's house and small contribution from Aunt Tilly's bakery), so they have no
money for legit licenses. Unfortunately, the management at many are too stupid to understand that there are perfectly good FOSS
alternatives for all of it.

Re:Common cause of termination in bad startups (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088782)

Firing someone who can financially sink the company by reporting stuff to the BSA doesn't seem like a good idea.

Re:Common cause of termination in bad startups (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088910)

the BSA wont come after every tip they get. they only do around 10-15% at best.

Re:Common cause of termination in bad startups (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088936)

Neither does using pirated software in the workplace where this sort of stuff is bound to happen...

But there you have it.

Re:Common cause of termination in bad startups (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088854)

Unfortunately, the management at many are too stupid

No wonder the tech startups in your town are underfunded. Maybe they "stupid management" companies should go out of business and make room for "smart management" companies/opportunities/whatever..

My job used to be like this.... (5, Insightful)

ajlisows (768780) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088712)

I am a sysadm/web developer for a smallish manufacturing business. When I got here, there licensing was a complete and utter mess. They had about half the number of Office licenses as needed (And half of those were Home/Student Edition), they had a centralized AV solution that they were still getting updates for but hadn't paid for in three years, and just overall were NOT compliant.

I brought it to the company president's attention. Buying 40 Office licenses at a time (Probably around $10000 for Small Business) as well as 70-80 AV subscriptions (Maybe another $2000), and various other server and client software (Around $12,000 more) was not something they wanted to do. They did agree to take it slow and get legit over a period of time. During that period, I did install Office on more machines but they bought the licenses over a period of 18 months. In the end, I am happy to say we are nearly 100% compliant.

So I guess instead of going to him with a HUGE bill, maybe write up a plan to go legit over the next year or two. They may balk at a one time large sum of money but be willing to pay $1000 here, $2000 there or something. Worked for me. If the company is too cheap to even do that, you probably aren't going to you as an employee and are probably better off starting to look around....

Re:My job used to be like this.... (2, Insightful)

lonestarw (1391573) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088872)

I would have to agree with your approach...develop a budget and heck buy computers with office installed if you have to. I worked for a company that I slowly added OSS alternatives where I could. Also Document your concerns that way if any legal issues come up it all points to the management...not you.

Two suggestions... (1)

norletsk (1567121) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088714)

If you like the company and/or your job, I would get a copy of the license agreement for the software that you believe is pirated and show it to the boss. Explain how what you have observed violates the license and suggest that the company either pay for the software or make the transition to free software. Alternatively, if you don't like the company, I'm sure you've seen the BSA ads all over Slashdot.

Re:Two suggestions... (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088796)

Dude No.
From the story it seems very clear that the piracy policy is actually coming from the top, and that everyone else in the company knows but has quietly accepted it.
Rubbing the bosses nose in the fact that you know about his dirty laundry will likely just get you seen as a troublemaker and even maybe fired.
I think an anonymous tipoff to the BSA is overdue here.

Happens all the time (3, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088726)

Asked [slashdot.org] and answered [slashdot.org] .

AVG not a free for all. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088752)

AVG is only for home use - even educational institutions have to buy it.

Will you get fired for non installing illegal software? Probably not.

Only install legit software or you are complicit.

WinZip (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088764)

Who the hell uses a crappy shareware version (let alone a crappy paid-for software) for zipping? I mean, Office I can barely understand if the company runs some proprietary document management server like Citrix, but there is no excuse not to use 7-zip.

7zip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088774)

it may be one of those MSDN keys that everyone has. Use 7zip instead of WinZip.

Deserving (0, Troll)

jamienk (62492) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088798)

When the lamb has struggled so long and hard to get food fight illness and brave the elements, don't you think it deserves to not be killed by the lion? WinZip, that succulent little lamb, will be eaten by us, the vicious software pirates, however we moralize. It is our nature.

Not that big of a deal (1)

stim (732091) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088816)

Make sure you have written documentation expressing your concern, then move on. Then if they ever just royally screw you over, you can tell on them!

run away (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088836)

Polish resume and begin looking for work elsewhere. Either they're willing to risk prosecution for profit or else they are doing so poorly your job isn't that secure anyway. If you otherwise like them, you could suggest open source alternatives, but the way you've presented it, it smells bad.

Business is business (2, Informative)

kentrel (526003) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088846)

Tell your boss that this is important, and that the company needs to pay for it, and you feel obligated to report it as you will be liable also. Then offer helpful suggestions as to who you can lay off in order to allocate money to pay for the software. Will it be friendly Bob, or the pregnant lady in the accounts department? Alternatively you can just shut your mouth and get another job like everybody else said.

Copyright Infringement != Piracy (4, Funny)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088850)

Don't play their game.

Piracy is ship to ship armed robbery. Unless this company is boarding a ship full of software with cutlasses drawn... it isn't piracy. Calling infringement piracy makes it seem worse than it is and makes light of what is happening off the coast of Africa.

Cue the descriptivists....

Document... (2, Insightful)

Jawn98685 (687784) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088860)

We've been over this ground many times.
Document (as in "make sure the decision maker is aware of it") the need for an audit of software licenses. If they refuse to permit that, cover your ass as best you can and start looking for another job.
If they permit the audit, do it. If you come up short in the licenses-to-installed copies ratio, document that. If they refuse to mitigate (buy licenses or delete installations) cover your ass as best you can and look for another job.
It is your job to make the decision makers aware of the licensing terms, show them how the organization is or is not in compliance with those terms, and to educate them as to the consequences of failing to comply. If you are not allowed, at the very minimum, to do these things, rest assured that it will be you who is blamed when that willful negligence comes back to bite the organization. Cover your ass and get the documentation that shows you at least tried to get them to do the right thing.

Protect yourself? (1)

SocPres (743965) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088868)

First, don't post the question using what looks like a username alias for your real name.

Second, don't mention the specific software in question.

Third, find a new job quickly now that this information is out.

I'm not a lawyer, but isn't the idea behind a corporation such that individuals are not held legally responsible for crap like this, but the company as a whole is?

Who's Watching the Watchers? (1)

WankersRevenge (452399) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088870)

I worked for a company eight years ago that bought a software company. They were all about getting tough on piracy that they created a task forced headed by the top legal counsel in the company. In meetings, they talked about the steps they took, smacking down pirates.

Everyone of those anti-piracy motherfuckers were just as bad as the people who they were cracking down. They all traded cracked copies of shit out of the meeting. I didn't think it was that bad until I was at work late one night. The head counsel visited my desk, asked for a cracked copy of photoshop, then borrowed one of my photoshop books. No joke.

This company is still in business today. I don't know if those people are still there, but they ran that small software division into the ground.

The funny thing, that's when I started posting on Slashdot. Jesus Christ, I can't believe I've been visiting the same web site for eight years. I need a life.

boo freakin hoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088896)

how about you stop being such a whiney baby. pirated software?! oh no! this is computer land, proprietary software be damned. get over it.

My mom always said... (1)

eeth (1557089) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088900)

Nobody likes a tattle-tale.

CYA, new job, then rat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088906)

Firstly, start looking for a new job. It sounds like there's a fair amount of corruption at your company and that can't be good in the long term.

As you start getting a good idea that you can find a better job, send an email to your boss expressing concern that there may be unlicensed software installed on computers in your company. Don't make a big deal about it, since this is your CYA measure. You probably will not get a response or just get a verbal response. Print this email out and keep it, along with any replies.

After you have your job offer, say your goodbyes. Optionally, you can drop a dime to the BSA and rat out your old employers. Be careful about this last step, however, because this last step might kill your old company and everybody there will be out of a job.

FOSS fish or cut bait (0)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088926)

This is where the FOSS people need to fish or cut bait. On one hand you might not believe that software should be something you pay for, but on the other, you want genuinely FOSS systems to succeed. In my mind, the choice is clear cut. The guy should do what I did. If you don't want to pay for Windows + Office, then switch to Linux. You have to respect Microsoft's IP.

Granted, what MS does is pretty stupid. The more they clamp down on licensing, the more users will bolt.

I'm getting an enourmous kick out of this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088938)

Suddenly piracy is a bad thing on slashdot? What happened to all the arguments that copying software is not stealing? What happened to all the arguments that piracy is great for software companies? I guess it's one of those things that's only bad when other people do it.

Dragon Naturally Speaking (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088944)

I dunno about bootleg software, but on the next Talk Like A Pirate Day I'd love to put my computer in "Arrrgggg, Matey" mode.

Report them to the Business Software Alliance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088948)

You can remain anonymous and collect money for reporting depending on a variety of factors:
https://reporting.bsa.org/usa/home.aspx

All I can say is.. (1)

Guiness Boy (1098597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088950)

CYA, CYA, CYA. Document the crap out of your findings and suggestions to Management. If they don't listen then you have proof that you informed them of their evil ways. Then you can jump ship and call the SBA. Personally, I made it my job to uninstall every piece of illegal software in my organization. People didn't like it. People complained. But included in my job description was "ensuring the proper use of software". So, that's what I did. I became the BOFH very quickly.

Ethics in general (1)

mkawick (190367) | more than 4 years ago | (#30088956)

At this point, you feel a little queasy, but probably not enough to quit your job... it probably doesn't seem like a big enough deal over which to quit. But, your boss is demonstrating that he does not feel queasy which means that if this trend continues, you may be doing something very unseemly for him before you know it. Ethics is a hard one because you need to work and minor offenses that your boss approves don't really reflect on you, right? You are doing what you are told and you even wrote something on Slashdot which should help clear you conscience.

That fact is that all companies do some unethical things (which is why companies should be highly regulated IMHO). We should consider what it really means though for you to follow orders in this case.

First, you are validating your bosses bad behavior and in effect telling him that he's doing a good job.
Second, you are encouraging other people to copy software.
Third, you are not taking a stand and demonstrating to others that your own ethics might be less-than-stellar.

Lastly, there is the legal issue. You might just go to jail.

Other than quitting, you can simply find out the costs, present them to your boss as a plan for upgrade, and give it to him every few weeks. That way, you are taking initiative, demonstrating that you care, and showing that most software doesn't really cost very much. Also, encouraging the company to use open source might just push him toward being more ethical and get you a promotion.

Screw Him Before He Screws You (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088964)

If it's easy for your boss to screw others, and even a cheap WinZip is too much to pay, how hard is it for him to screw you too? Find a job where you don't have to be constantly watching your back.

Profit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30088968)

1. Quit your job
2. Report company to BSA
3. ???
4. PROFIT!

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