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Recession Turning Software Auditors Into Greedy Traffic Cops

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the twenty-six-in-a-twenty-five dept.

Software 307

judgecorp writes "As the recession bites, software auditors are cracking down, and some are simply exploiting loopholes and technicalities to meet their targets, according to analyst Forrester. They may be within their rights, but they aren't endearing themselves to users; Steve Ballmer faced weary customers in London last year, and admitted Windows licenses have deliberate 'gotchas.'"

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307 comments

Easy solution. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30703812)

(1) Outsource your work to a very large country which dosen't care about IP laws.
(2) Profit!

(1a) Outsource your work to domestic individuals who have the compatible software regardless of license legitimacy.
(2a) Don't shake their hands when you make a deal. Pay'em through some guy meeting them at an Italian restaurant every week. Stop showing up when they fail to deliver.
(3a) Wanna keep your house? 1a and 2a for you unemployed Americans whose baby food money is going towards military ammunition.

Re:Easy solution. (5, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704270)

(1) Outsource your work to a very large country which dosen't care about IP laws.

Shame you got modded troll. This is pretty insightful, though it should say "Outsource your work to a country which has lax tax laws."

One of the most unintentionally hilarious points in TFA is Steve Ballmer's comment;

Users such as the Government of the Isle of Man are already saving up to £120 per year using the beta version of Windows 7

The Isle of Man is largely an offshore tax haven with around 1,350 desktop computers for the entire government. If all of the promised "£100 per desktop per year" savings materialise, the IoM government will have saved a grand total of £135,000 by using beta software. So why would Ballmer be so interested in such a small deployment?

Accounts for Microsoft Ireland Research, an Irish subsidiary of the global software giant, show that the company paid just €460,000 in tax, on profits of more than €1.2 billion last year.
http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/category/microsoft/ [taxresearch.org.uk]

That's 0.04% tax.

Still wondering why Microsoft is heavily involved in an offshore tax haven?

Even funnier, the IoM Government was an early supporter of Windows Vista, and claimed savings switching to that OS. Though only completing their rollout in October 2009, they were just in time to save even more money changing to Windows 7. If they keep making savings upgrading like that, pretty soon Microsoft'll be paying them for installing Windows.

I just don't even open the door (5, Interesting)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 4 years ago | (#30703840)

I don't use ANY proprietary software at my company. I own a software development company in Argentina. If I get an auditor (Auditions here are done by ARBA, the state-wide equivalent of the IRS in Buenos Aires) I just won't even open the door. Sue me if you want. I use NO privative software, and no one has any right to log in into my servers or workstations (We have ~40 machines at our offices).

Fuck them in the ass.

Re:I just don't even open the door (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30703976)

I don't use ANY proprietary software at my company.

This is great for anyone who can get free software to do their bidding. For everyone else, this really pushes free software into the limelight in a good way (e.g. - we'll use it until we see the value and THEN we'll pay for the "enterprise" support).

Adobe products apparently "phone home". My former employer was just approached by Adobe about some unlicensed copies on the network (the users have full admin rights, per most Windows environments). They settled out of court for $2 million (USD) but immediately dropped Adobe from the suite in favor of free software.

Kudos to Adobe for screwing themselves so bad.

Re:I just don't even open the door (3, Insightful)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704266)

They settled out of court for $2 million (USD) but immediately dropped Adobe from the suite in favor of free software.

Kudos to Adobe for screwing themselves so bad.

I'd hardly call getting a $2,000,000 check "screwing themselves". Especially since, if they hadn't -- as you say -- "screwed themselves" like that, they would have gotten nothing.

Re:I just don't even open the door (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30704298)

Nothing except for the ongoing revenue from the licensed copies.

Re:I just don't even open the door (2, Insightful)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704356)

So they lost $20,000 present day value for $2,000,000 present day. Sounds like a good deal for Adobe.

Re:I just don't even open the door (1)

eltaco (1311561) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704412)

not in the long run.

Re:I just don't even open the door (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30704456)

So they lost $20,000 present day value for $2,000,000 present day. Sounds like a good deal for Adobe.

Sure, until today's 200 employee shop turns into tomorrow's Google and the CEO decides that since he isn't going to buy Adobe but still needs the equivalent of their software, they're going to develop an equivalent, open source it and put Adobe out of business.

It's never a good idea to piss off your customers.

Re:I just don't even open the door (1)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704574)

Adobe isn't going out of business any time soon. Between Illustrator, LiveCycle, Premiere, Photoshop, etc. They're in no shortage of customers, although in some segments they may be running short on paying customers(photoshop et. al.)

Re:I just don't even open the door (2, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704344)

And now they'll get nothing else, when the company could have been a good customer, along with bad publicity. I won't every buy anything from Adobe now.

Re:I just don't even open the door (2, Informative)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704334)

Getting free software to do ones bidding is really just learning how to use it and doesn't take any more time than non-free software in most cases. The thing is that there are some differences and that in schools proprietary is what is taught.

Yes it is harder for some applications but for the vast majority of office work FOSS is just as good. If you really need that little boost and can't afford to pay the time then pay the money and say hello to the auditor with a smile on your face as you agreed to the horrific contract.

If you really don't like it contact your representative in government. If your government doesn't have a representative for you that is at least elected in a reasonably fair manner well then it may be time to replace your government.

Re:I just don't even open the door (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704468)

for $2M, I'll screw myself too.

Re:I just don't even open the door (3, Interesting)

Quasar1999 (520073) | more than 4 years ago | (#30703980)

Some how, in North America, your mentality would be viewed as admission of guilt, and they'd find you guilty of pirating software that quite probably hasn't even been written yet.

We seem to have fallen into a guilty until proven innocent beyond any doubt (no matter how unreasonable) system up here... How's the weather down there? If you guys have cheap internet, I'm willing to emmigrate...

Re:I just don't even open the door (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704082)

Do you have some examples?

Re:I just don't even open the door (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704248)

"Three strikes and you're OUT!"

This is the mentality that legislators throughout Europe and the English speaking nations are working with. Specific examples? Just google for any story about computers being confiscated so that the law and/or corporate cronies can build a case against you.

Yes, I know, I'm not addressing the GP's post specifically - just pointing out that he can't be very far wrong based on recent reading.

Re:I just don't even open the door (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704288)

http://www.google.com/search?q=any+story+about+computers+being+confiscated [google.com]

A couple of the first 10 results are in other countries, and then a couple more are about warrants being served, and most of the other 6 are 'extraordinary circumstances' (i.e., government owned computers being confiscated, or stuff happening at the border (which is still probably bullshit, but it isn't exactly the BSA stomping on the innocent)).

The next 20 aren't way out of line with that.

Re:I just don't even open the door (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704474)

gitmo ?

Re:I just don't even open the door (5, Interesting)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704108)

I agree with that. Actually, there are many screwed up views on the US about many subjects. Argentina is far from being a paradise. We are a mess in many areas, but we are much more free. I have many friends from the states (Being a coder, you just make friends in all parts of the word), and I hear many talk about the land of the free. Freedom in the US is a scarce value. We are a lot more free down here. You can use drugs without the cops bothering you, People are not suing each other all the time, and you can actually live without a credit card, a bank account, and financial records. You can live in cash, without being chased, and just say 'fuck the government, I want my own little Anarchy". If you leave everyone alone, and don't expect anything from the government, they have no way of bothering you. That's the way I choose. I stay out of their way, and they stay out of mine. Sure, if you are into the game, they will fuck you up. But if you decide to play alone, you stand a chance.

About your questions, the weather is very nice, the place is beautiful (sort of European-looking, but with virtually unlimited natural resources, less people, lots of cheap land, and the best food in the world). About internet access, I'm paying 33 Dollars for unlimited 3G access anywhere in the country [coverage is pretty good, i have signal everywhere, even outside the cities], and 42 Dollars for a 4MB Cablemodem, that works pretty well.

Cheers.

Re:I just don't even open the door (4, Interesting)

pclminion (145572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704540)

The civil justice system has NEVER been an "innocent until proven guilty" system. Unlike criminal justice, civil justice is about "preponderance of evidence." Roughly, this means that whoever's case is more impressive, wins. You don't have to prove anything, you just have to be more convincing than the other guy. And if you don't try to defend yourself? You lose by default. This isn't new. It's always been this way.

Re:I just don't even open the door (1)

emcron (455054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704034)

Eh? How do things work there down under?

Software audits don't entail some government henchman knocking on your door at random and demanding to see what's inside. Audits in the U.S. are usually for companies licensing large volumes of software for multiple users. The agreements they enter into allow the software maker (Micosoft, Adobe, etc.) to ask for and recieve an accounting of installed copies of software to make sure you're paying for what you are using or are otherwise properly licensed.

They don't just show up and kick down your door.

Kudos to you for going the free software route, but most software audits are not the jackbooted RIAA/MPAA criminal issues of pirating -- the companies licensing legit software know what they're getting into when they sign the deals, and some can expect to at some point to have the auditing clause invoked.

Re:I just don't even open the door (2, Informative)

bmo (77928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704184)

>They don't just show up and kick down your door.

Yes, they do.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&client=opera&rls=en&q=bsa+raid&btnG=Search [google.com]

--
BMO

Re:I just don't even open the door (0)

emcron (455054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704250)

So I stopped after the first page, but none of those had anything to do with the OP or the subject at hand. The BSA "raids" were for counterfeiting operations, not companies that were under-licensed or inappropriately licensed.

Raiding a seedy shop in Thailand that's pressing tens of thousands of bootlegged install discs for Windows and Office 2007 is not the same as sending a letter to a business asking that they account for their 20-seat installation license.

I work for a mid-size business and we were audited by Adobe last year. We basically had to send them a list of all the apps we had installed, reconciled as best we could with license keys. That was it.

Now, if someone's dumbass IT department is using the same single-license retail key to install hundreds of copies of Office on the company's computers, then yeah, you're going to get some serious legal action. But nobody kicks down doors.

Re:I just don't even open the door (2, Informative)

bmo (77928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704278)

>So I stopped after the first page, but none of those had anything to do with the OP or the subject at hand.

First link.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,312948,00.html [foxnews.com]

You lose, Pumpkin.

--
BMO

Re:I just don't even open the door (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704314)

They didn't physically raid that guy, they sent him a letter.

I feel like I should call you some sort of baked good, but I can't think of one. Sorry, Pot Roast.

Re:I just don't even open the door (1)

emcron (455054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704318)

Right, but the difference between you and me is apparently that I actually read the articles.

The fox news story you cite is about a guy who received a *letter* from the BSA informing him that he was not properly licensing his software. He later admits he had shoddy book and record keeping.

No one showed up at his door, no one demanded to be let inside, and no one got anywhere near his property or computers.

I'm not saying the BSA's tactics with respect to settlement payments are to be applauded, but sending a legal notice to a company that has not licensed software correctly (or properly accounted for it), is far, far outside the definition of a "raid."

Re:I just don't even open the door (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704398)

>Right, but the difference between you and me is apparently that I actually read the articles.

And if you read *beyond the first paragraph* you'll find that the BSA is up to its old tricks of "turn in your employer"

For years the group implored unhappy employees to report their companies for software piracy. "Nail Your Boss!" the ads said. But beginning in 2005, the BSA sweetened the deal by offering $50,000 rewards to whistleblowers in the U.S. It raised the limit to $200,000 last year, and now it is $1 million.

Unlike most stuff at Fox, this goes on into quite some depth.

After an audit, the BSA generally demands at least twice the retail price of software deemed out of compliance. It also seeks the "unbundled" price of software that is sold together.

So if a company loaded too many copies of a $300 package of Microsoft Office, the BSA might tally the retail value of every element in the package Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc. which totals more than $1,000, and then at least double that.

Rob Scott, an attorney with Scott & Scott LLP who specializes in defending against BSA claims, argues that by charging the unbundled rate, the alliance misrepresents U.S. copyright law, which counts product compilations as single works when it comes to assessing damages. (The BSA says Scott's reading misdefines "compilation.")

The BSA accurately points out that under copyright law, it could collect up to $150,000 per infringed work if it prevailed in a lawsuit, or $30,000 if the incident was unintentional. Neil MacBride, the group's head of legal affairs, calls the law's figures "draconian" and says that by seeking less, the BSA gives violators a break.

They are just _so_ generous, not going after $150,000 for that copy of Word "missing" its receipt. Not related to the thread? I think not.

Re:I just don't even open the door (1)

emcron (455054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704422)

Given that it doesn't appear you've actually read my replies, I think we'll leave your foolishness to the judgment of others.

All I was debating was the issue of physical raids, which you brought up. Nothing else. I was not in any way defending overall BSA tactics.

You argued the raid point and whiffed mightily, so changing the debate to a topic about which I made no reference to in my prior comments is a waste of time.

Re:I just don't even open the door (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30704076)

Since you don't use Intel, AMD, SPARC, POWER, PPC, 68k, ARM, or other processors with closed source software embedded in them what exactly do you use? And where did you manage to find open disk drives?

Re:I just don't even open the door (1)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704122)

I use an abacus, pencil and paper.

Traffic cops? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 4 years ago | (#30703852)

Would have been better to use blood sucking lawyers.

Easy solution. (5, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#30703862)

Don't run Windows. "Software auditors" are just about unknown to users of any other platform.

-jcr

Re:Easy solution. (3, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30703902)

Exactly. On a somewhat related note, I think it would be interesting to see how the recession has affected the use of FOSS due to the necessity of cutting extraneous costs like software licenses.

Re:Easy solution. (2, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704290)

Opinion only: Little to no effect yet. Most companies are trying to ride out the recession. (Read, management is still enjoying a nice paycheck, and most of their usual perks) When, and only when, management is looking at cuts to their own pay and/or benefits will they look at FOSS as an alternative. Then, there will be problems. All those donations to schools has ensured that most people only know the MS way of life, and it will cost to migrate to anything else.

But, if the recession isn't solved within the next 24 to 36 months, THEN we will see a mass migration. If profit margins drop to mere multiples of what a corporation is spending on software, the software will be axed, plain and simple.

As an aside - I wonder just how much a company like Bank of America spends on software each year? I'm certain that money could support my home town - maybe the entire county!!

Re:Easy solution. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30704168)

4. REPORTING AND AUDIT. If Customer wishes to increase the number of Installed System, then Customer will purchase from Red Hat additional Services for each additional Installed System. During the term of this Agreement and for one (1) year thereafter, Customer expressly grants to Red Hat the right to audit Customer's facilities and records from time to time in order to verify Customer's compliance with the terms and conditions of this Agreement. Any such audit shall only take place during Customer's normal business hours and upon no less than ten (10) days prior written notice from Red Hat. Red Hat shall conduct no more than one such audit in any twelve-month period except for the express purpose of assuring compliance by Customer where non-compliance has been established in a prior audit. Red Hat shall give Customer written notice of any non-compliance, and if a payment deficiency exists, then Customer shall have fifteen (15) days from the date of such notice to make payment to Red Hat for any payment deficiency. The amount of the payment deficiency will be determined by multiplying the number of underreported Installed Systems or Services by the annual fee for such item. If Customer is found to have underreported the number of Installed Systems or amount of Services by more than five percent (5%), Customer shall, in addition to the annual fee for such item, pay a penalty equal to twenty percent (20%) of the underreported fees.

Re:Easy solution. (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704192)

Yep, nobody would threaten to sue you for using Linux.

Excuse me, jcr, you've got a phone call from a SCO on line 3. I think you might want tot take it.

Re:Easy solution. (2, Informative)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704362)

Depends on the flavor. Try debian.

Re:Easy solution. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30704392)

>"Software auditors" are just about unknown to users of any other platform.

Shows how little you know. Unix has had proprietary engineering software for ages and heaven help you if you've been playing fast and loose with your licenses for $10k+ a seat software.

They are not looking for endearment (4, Insightful)

Suki I (1546431) | more than 4 years ago | (#30703892)

They may be within their rights, but they aren't endearing themselves to users; They are not looking for endearment, they are looking for a paycheck.

Re:They are not looking for endearment (2, Insightful)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30703932)

Exactly. Microsoft long ago passed the point of having to care about what people think of them.

Re:They are not looking for endearment (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#30703956)

> Microsoft long ago passed the point of having to care about what people think of them.

IBM used to believe that. So did Dell.

-jcr

Re:They are not looking for endearment (1)

Suki I (1546431) | more than 4 years ago | (#30703984)

And DIGITAL and Control Data and . . .

Re:They are not looking for endearment (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704222)

Corel, Circuit City, Enron

Re:They are not looking for endearment (1, Insightful)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704328)

... The US Government...

Re:They are not looking for endearment (2, Insightful)

the_other_one (178565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704580)

The Conservative Party of Canada

Re:They are not looking for endearment (4, Insightful)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704380)

And as an advocate for FOSS and other alternatives to MS I salute them for going after that buck at the expense of their users and cheer them on to drive harder.

What rights? (5, Informative)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30703926)

They may be within their rights,

What right would that be, exactly? If they're not law enforcement, and they don't have a court order, they have zero "rights." Yes, even if they show up wearing fancy raid jackets to try and look like law enforcement.

I've posted this several times before. If the BSA or any of these other vultures come knocking, they have ABSOLUTELY NO RIGHT TO DO ANYTHING, SEE ANYTHING, TALK TO ANYONE, etc WITHOUT A COURT ORDER. If they have one, that means you're already in the process of being sued, and the first person you should call is your lawyer, and you should ONLY do EXACTLY what the court order requires you to.

Here's the Superbanana Super Guide To BSA Bullshit Shutdown.

  • Your receptionist and anyone else that is near the front door should keep them as far out of the building as possible, at a minimum the reception area. Block their path. If they even so much as poke your check with a finger, call the police immediately. Maybe even call the police, preemptively ("Hi, 911? Some people in raid jackets showed up at our business, they're not police, but they seem to be pretending like they are. There's a lot of them, we think they might be trying to rob us or something.") At a company where I worked, we had a silent alarm button at the reception desk.
  • Send someone to find the most senior person in the company, preferably an officer (CEO, CFO, President, etc.) They do all the talking. That talking should consist almost entirely of "Who are you" (where your attorney will send a very nasty letter to). "Do you have a court order?" (No.) "Get off our property, you're trespassing."
  • If the "auditors" refuse to leave, get physical, or try to connect to the network or start poking around, call the police immediately.

If they don't have a court order, don't let them see anything, touch anything, install anything, connect anything. Don't answer any questions. The only information you should give them is your attorney's phone number.

Re:What rights? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30703974)

Then they just come back an hour with a motion of discovery, the constable, and 3 deputies.

Re:What rights? (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704026)

good, now everything is on some paperwork, you can get the evidence thrown out later by getting the order thrown out.

Re:What rights? (2, Interesting)

pclminion (145572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704044)

A motion of discovery ON WHO'S BEHALF? Dude, I WISH it worked like that. I'm curious what the fuck my neighbor keeps doing in his garage at 3:00 in the morning. I'll just go down to the courthouse and get a court order to search his home, right?

Re:What rights? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30704486)

Whose, not who's.

Re:What rights? (4, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704072)

Maybe, but then they're limited by what the court has stated they can do. If you voluntarily allow them access then the sky is the limit.

Re:What rights? (3, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704050)

Here's where the nonsense starts...

You consent to the audits if you have any volume licensing at all. You also gave up your right to sue and have consented to going to arbitration. In that, BSA claiming they have a report you licensed X and you are using Y copies (from the upset employee you fired a month ago) and unless you present a defense, you lose. So, you've got to let the auditors do their count of computers... You can slow them down and get into compliance in the meantime, but you can't keep them

Re:What rights? (4, Informative)

pclminion (145572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704118)

Giving up your right to sue doesn't mean you can't sue. I've seen it done. Party A and Party B enter an arbitration agreement. Party A believes Party B has failed to fulfil some contractual obligation. Party B disagrees, finds fault with Party A, and sues Party A. In court, party A enters the original contract into evidence. Party B disputes it. A hearing is scheduled. A question of validity of the contract is raised. Party A then sues Party B for breach of contract. The whole thing is tied up in the courts for 17 months. The issue is resolved when everybody gets so fucking tired of it that they just walk away.

You say I gave up my right to sue? How are you going to prove it? I guess you'll have to... TAKE ME TO COURT.

Re:What rights? (4, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704144)

They show the clickwrap contract, and then you've got to prove the Microsoft EULA is invalid. Good luck with that.

Re:What rights? (1)

tchuladdiass (174342) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704256)

They have no evidence that you clicked on it though. Just because the software is installed means only that "someone" clicked the agreement. Or maybe not -- all software has bugs in it, maybe the installer didn't show an agreement (due to a faulty video card driver, for instance).

Re:What rights? (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704316)

I didn't say I'd WIN, I said that just because I have an arbitration agreement doesn't mean I have to abide by it. It's fundamentally impossible to give up your right to sue somebody. It just makes it a hell of a lot less likely that you'll win.

Re:What rights? (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704440)

It strikes me that there can't be a lot of judges who will be very impressed with someone saying that a contractural disagreement is outside the jurisdiction of the courts generally, and must be handed over to some clearly biased* private organisation.

*You don't continue to be Large Corp Inc's preferred arbitrator by bringing in decisions against them

Re:What rights? (3, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704508)

Yep. You have a right to sue when you have no chance of winning. It just isn't a very profitable right to exercise.

ELUA? (2, Insightful)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704174)

IIRCC some EULAs give the "authorized representatives" the authority to check your computers.

Good argument for GPL'd software.

Re:ELUA? (1)

Spykk (823586) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704566)

Whoops, you forgot the L in If I Remember Contract Law Correctly.

Castle Doctrine? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30704182)

My company has guns in the premises (we do some cool stuff for the government).
I just wonder does Castle Doctrine works for companies (California)?

Re:What rights? (1)

mindbrane (1548037) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704194)

If they even so much as poke your check with a finger

I presume you intended to type cheek?

IANAL, but the law, as I was instructed in it, in British Columbia, Canada suggests that if you think someone is trespassing you should inform them they're trespassing. You can then place a hand on them to escort them off the property, if the resist, even to the point of simply slipping away from the hand you've place on them they can then be seen as having assaulted you.

Corporations and most lawyers use intimidation as a matter of course, as do government agencies. I'm of the considered opinion anyone who doesn't tell them to fuck off is a sucker and deserves to get used and abused by these assholes.

In case some of you haven't noticed the only game being played in any town, anywhere is that you press your case onward with the pedal to the metal and then let the courts sort it out. No corporation gives a flying fuck about your rights.

Re:What rights? (2, Insightful)

speedlaw (878924) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704476)

Thank you. I am forever amazed at those who expect a company to "play fair" or "do the right thing". May as well expect a hungry shark not to eat that cute puppy who fell off the dock. Having litigated against some big companies, the OP has the right attitude.

Real traffic cops too (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30703958)

I don't have solid data to back it up; but I think they're giving out more tickets in California now.

The other day I actually saw somebody get nailed for "failure to yield to a pedestrian". This is indeed a big problem--to the point where I have to wait for several cars to pass through a crosswalk sometimes. Still, it doesn't seem like they cared that much about it a couple years ago.

Coincidence?

Re:Real traffic cops too (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704220)

Maybe someone got hit. Where I used to live there were a couple of pedestrians hit in crosswalks, including one who was carrying a baby. They put the fine at $500 and the cops started enforcing it. It wasn't really a big problem before, but there was no problem at all afterward.

Re:Real traffic cops too (2, Informative)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704358)

For all intensive purposes

I've always thought that that was "For all intents and purposes."

Greedy traffic cops? (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30703970)

WTF is that supposed to mean? I think of some guy with beady eyes and salivating mouth clutching a Krispy Kreme and a coffee. Traffic cops are greedy? Pricks would be the word I'd use. I think they do their job out of officiousness rather than any sort of expectation of personal gain. Is greedy traffic cop one of those internet things I missed?

Re:Greedy traffic cops? (2, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704018)

If "traffic cop" implied "greedy", then there wouldn't be any need for the adjective.

Re:Greedy traffic cops? (4, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704124)

In the town next to the one I sit... there's a old police officer who has a "quota" of traffic fines he needs to collect in the budget. Miss his income number, and he's unemployed. The budget number is public record as and in as a separate line item in the official budget. He's authorized to put up a "Speed Limit 30" sign at any intersection because that's the state law at all intersections marked or not.

Now, on the way out of this town, there's a highway interchange. That's an intersection, but the state highway people don't want you going as slow as 30 miles per hour there... you won't be up to 55 on the short ramp to the highway if you do. So they've rigged this intersections with enough signs that the traffic officer is locked out... if he puts his sign up, it's not properly displayed because it's either blocked from view or too far from the intersection. He still writes tickets there, and if you take him to traffic court you can get it kicked. He's hoping you confess or just send in the check. There's even a state website where you can pay your fine with a credit card.

If enough people do get his tickets kicked, he'll be done.

Re:Greedy traffic cops? (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704504)

That's not greed, though. Greed is desire far beyond that which is needed. Filling a quote is, by definition, decidedly un-greedy.

Ernie Ball (5, Interesting)

bmo (77928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704092)

I'm sure that Sterling Ball over at Ernie Ball (guitar string manufacturer) is sitting with a big grin on his face every time he reads something like this.

For those who forgot:

http://news.cnet.com/2008-1082_3-5065859.htm [cnet.com]

In 2000, the Business Software Alliance conducted a raid and subsequent audit at the San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based company that turned up a few dozen unlicensed copies of programs. Ball settled for $65,000, plus $35,000 in legal fees. But by then, the BSA, a trade group that helps enforce copyrights and licensing provisions for major business software makers, had put the company on the evening news and featured it in regional ads warning other businesses to monitor their software licenses. Humiliated by the experience, Ball told his IT department he wanted Microsoft products out of his business within six months. "I said, 'I don't care if we have to buy 10,000 abacuses,'" recalled Ball, who recently addressed the LinuxWorld trade show. "We won't do business with someone who treats us poorly."

Re:Ernie Ball (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30704254)

Visit their facilities theses days and you will find quite a few Windows boxes around. Guess Linux didn't work out like they thought it would.

Re:Ernie Ball (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704336)

Been there have you? I can see owning a few windoze boxen if you needed an app that was windoze specific. I think the point made by Ernie Ball was that for most of what was being done there was no need for proprietary software. Why pay the huge outlay of cash for a box that is only used to do word processing?

Re:Ernie Ball (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704346)

[Citation needed]

Re:Ernie Ball (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30704388)

You request a cite for that comment but blindly accept a quote from 10 years ago?

Re:Ernie Ball (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704444)

You request a contradiction for my post when the Citation needed could have easily applied to parent and grandparent?

Just doing their job? (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704106)

and some are simply exploiting loopholes and technicalities to meet their targets

Arn't "loopholes and technicalities" some of the things auditors are supposed to look for?

Of course the guy is an asshole... (4, Funny)

cortesoft (1150075) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704126)

Julian Heathcote Hobbins, General Counsel for the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST), spoke in defence of the software industry protecting its property rights

Could the guy have a more pretentious name? Really? Julian Heathcote Hobbins? Could that guy have any other job beside going around and telling people they are using the product they bought incorrectly?

Re:Of course the guy is an asshole... (2, Funny)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704240)

Come on, he can't help his name. Now, using all of them, THAT's pretentious.

Re:Of course the guy is an asshole... (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704374)

He didn't write the article and put all his names in, the journalist did that.

Re:Of course the guy is an asshole... (2, Funny)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704588)

Yes, and journalists have this thing for doing lots of background research to dig up people's middle names just so they can put them in articles.

Takes a steady hand to treat customers well (3, Insightful)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704156)

IMO this is one place where strong management can make a big difference by taking an explicit position on "Times are tough, we need to collect what revenue we can" vs "We need to preserve a relationship with our customers *and* help them stay in business *and* get ready to capitalise on that good relationship when the economy picks up and we want to sell more stuff". Targets should not be allowed to distract from the bigger picture, which is *serving your customers*. Sure you might have contract terms that give you "the right" to hit your customers with surprise charges in order to help keep your own business afloat but you're not really serving them, you're using them. By the same token, when I go to my local shop they have "the right" to be rude to me - I'm paying for goods, not manners. But then I'd switch purchasing to the other local shop. Everything has a cost.

But what do I know, I'm not a manager! Times are tough, people have to get by somehow.

Nor are you a monopolist (3, Insightful)

Rix (54095) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704326)

Who can screw their customers and expect them to come back for more.

Re:Nor are you a monopolist (2, Interesting)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704448)

Heh, that's certainly true too! I've been thinking a lot recently about whether predatory / monopolistic behaviour is *ever* a good idea. It seems to me it's only ever a good plan in the relatively short term. In the end, trying to squash the market under your weight rather than swim in it is always going to result in disloyal customers, faster moving competitors and loss of market position.

I'm not sure there's a way of avoiding the eventual progression of successful company -> bureaucratic monster -> innovation-averse nuisance. But I do think that it's a slide worth fighting, it just needs management to have a *really* good sense of the big picture and can make a case for doing the right thing, as opposed to chasing immediate profits or serving short term investors in the company.

Why would you even let them in the door? (1)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704170)

I work for a small (~50 person) software development firm. I have no experience on the business side of the house, so I'm open to the possibility that I'm missing something really basic here. With that said, why would a company let a software audit happen? It seems like the only possible outcomes are bad. It's not like the company can realize any revenue from an audit (and could quite possibly end up paying money to buy licenses), and even if the auditors don't find anything bad, there's still the overhead of dealing with them in the first place, i.e. dealing with auditors diverts resources away from revenue-generating activities. So the best outcome one could hope for, from a software audit, is slightly bad. Software auditors aren't government organizations, are they? Do they have warrants or magical lawyer powers that enable them to legally do this? Why not just ignore their calls and refuse them entry?

Re:Why would you even let them in the door? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30704304)

Do they have warrants or magical lawyer powers that enable them to legally do this? Why not just ignore their calls and refuse them entry?

Because you consented to audits when you purchased your volume license.

Re:Why would you even let them in the door? (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704306)

I'm thinking it's because you agreed to their right to audit you when you purchased the licenses. Nobody except for lawyers ever read those EULA's it seems.

Re:Why would you even let them in the door? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704330)

MS might want you to take a software audit when you buy ne licenses. so in that respect if you need to upgrade they can make it part of the deal.

personally i can't see how the manager of any company worth his salt couldn't stone wall this. first you would play dumb - really dumb -. then once they had spelt out a few times what they wanted you'd put up a few objections that don't make any sense. follow this up with a few feature questions to taking them off down another track and they will probably be ready to drop the matter on their own for all the time you are chewing up. if you've got an rep that is really switched on and sticking to his guns, then you would go to phase 2 where you demand they explain why this benefits you the customer, ask how it makes you money. kick and scream threaten to go over to a different platform, get quotes showing it'd be worth it and send it to them. after this it'd be a miracle if they persisted. obviously if they just showed up you'd kick them out the door.

Re:Why would you even let them in the door? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30704482)

"we don't have any of your software; and if we don't have your software, we don't have a license; and if we don't have a license, you can't dangle it over us. Prove otherwise"

Re:Why would you even let them in the door? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704512)

that doesn't work because they will respond with "ok we will prove it, our auditors will be there monday" and when you refuse you just look guilty. it's better to just look stupid and waste 100's of hours of their time till they give up.

The only logical conclusion... (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704342)

Is that it's a term of the volume/"professional" licenses large organizations have to enter into.

Re:Why would you even let them in the door? (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704390)

It's been mentioned before, but the audits are something you agree to when you purchase volume licensing. It allows the company to occasionally come in and check to make sure that you're paying for everything you're using.

Now, I don't believe that there's anything that says you have to allow the company onto your premises or any access to your network. I'm pretty sure it's just a report regarding how many computers are using how many licenses.

Re:Why would you even let them in the door? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704418)

Here's one scenario:

  1. Pissed off (ex?)employee goes to BSA or directly to the vendor and reports, "Illegal copies are being made."
  2. Vendor approaches company and says, "We have probable cause to file a complaint with law enforcement. They will come with a warrant and tear through everything. You may then be subject to criminal charges. You can avoid this by allowing us to audit and agree to a private settlemment."
  3. Comapny agrees to private audit.
  4. ????
  5. Profit!

Re:Why would you even let them in the door? (3, Informative)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704436)

You are forced to have the auditors by agreeing to the licenses to use certain software products.

In related news ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704216)

... Linux/OSS gains market share.

What about this? (4, Interesting)

pclminion (145572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704364)

Suppose I'm a healthcare company. Software auditors show up at my door, waving contracts in my face. I let them in. They insist that they must inspect ALL machines running, say, MS Office. Some of these machines contain sensitive health information for ten thousand patients. I have now committed 10,000 willful HIPAA violations, and could go to jail, in theory, for up to 10,000 years (maximum jail time for willful but non-malicious breach is 1 year per instance).

Or what about SarbOx? Any possibilities for violation there?

I think a strong case could be made that if you are a HIPAA covered entity who uses software which is subjects to such agreements, and you abide by the agreements, then you are committing a felony. Thus, using Microsoft software is a felony. QED

Re:What about this? (1)

DarkofPeace (1672314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704458)

hey even without HIPAA, claim trade secrets, then make the auditor sign the mother of all NDAs. Then if he tells anything sue him.

Boy, that's TV Law... (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704550)

Thus, using Microsoft software is a felony. QED

No, I think what would happen is that they can just look at the OS, without looking at the data running in the OS. Thus, they can get a license count. But, if you won't give them one, then, you could get sued, and be forced to give one, or rather, have some third party or even the local sherriff do the count with the understanding that the HIPAA data is implicitly protected because the exposure is to officers and appointees of the court.

Which leads to a really interesting point...

You can have data be secret to Congress. You can have it be secret to the President. But you can never have data be secret to a court. Who really has all the power?

The article was actually nice. (1, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30704526)

The submission made you think that Microsoft was being evil, but the article, if you actually read it, really did do the incredible thing of making Ballmer seem like a reasonable, almost likable guy. To wit, we have the same argument about the tax code in the USA. We should just have a flat tax, many people cry out, which makes sense, because, you kind of want everyone working the same number of days per year to satisfy the government. That's fair. But, the devil gets in the details. Rentals don't mind getting rid of the exemption on mortgage interest but want a greater personal deduction. Owners want bigger interest deductions. Married people want their break to be the same as unmarried people and then want additional breaks for kids. Businesses want tax breaks on anything they can get. We actually came fairly close to having a nearly flat tax in the 1980s, but then, even Republicans were arguing to get rid of it. There is never going to be a flat tax, or flat licensing, or anything else. It's just going to get even more complicated. Ironically, even the GPL, which governs something that you don't have to pay for it all, gets longer every year, trying to nail down every possible angle.

So, to summarize, Ballmer actually hit the hammer on the head in the article, people ask for simplification, but really, they want things to be complicated.

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