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Ernie Ball - Model For Open-Source Transition?

simoniker posted more than 11 years ago | from the minus-the-piracy-bit dept.

Linux Business 869

fr0z writes " Ernie Ball is a company that makes guitar strings. After being raided by the BSA in 2000 without warning and fined $100,000 for a few unlicensed copies of software, CEO Sterling Ball vowed not to give another cent to Microsoft and within 6 months, according to CNET News, had the whole company switched to Red Hat Linux, OpenOffice.org, Mozilla, and other free software."

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GNAA Announces acquisition of SCO (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753123)

GNAA Announces acquisition of SCO
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This news release contains forward-looking statements that involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. All statements other than statements of historical fact are statements that could be deemed forward-looking statements. These statements are based on management's current expectations and are subject to uncertainty and changes in circumstances. Actual results may vary materially from the expectations contained herein. The forward-looking statements contained herein include statements about the consummation of the transaction with SCO and benefits of the pending transaction with SCO. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described herein include the inability to obtain regulatory approvals and the inability to successfully integrate the SCO business. GNAA is under no obligation to (and expressly disclaims any such obligation to) update or alter its forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.


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Sweet Noises (1, Funny)

MasterShake (617668) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753130)

Well, we now know the rock and roll source for the Free Software movement Maybe we can get some bands and have an open-source concert!

Oh, the irony of it.... (5, Funny)

ChiefGeneralManager (600991) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753131)

...it might just be me, but is that a Windows 2003 Server ad that appears on the page along with Ernie Ball's story?

Re:Oh, the irony of it.... (1, Funny)

Zyrill (700263) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753137)

well i have a nice linux-banner - nothing to be ashamed of! maybe it's your capitalistic karma that makes the W2K3S banner show?

Re:Oh, the irony of it.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753141)

Canon wants to sell me a document manager.

Re:Oh, the irony of it.... (4, Interesting)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753151)

Interesting that they even advertise here. Doubt their click-through is very good :)

On a more serious side: The BSA is good motivation for people to quit the Microsoft Endless_Upgrade suite of software. Most (people/companies) will use whatever works, until it doesn't work. When you are fined $100K, it doesn't seem to be working very well. All a person needs is one good reason...

Re:Oh, the irony of it.... (1)

ClubStew (113954) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753240)

Why does this keep coming up? Microsoft does not force you to upgrade when upgrades are available. Therefore, you do not need to license new software. If what you have works, great. If not, obey the law and get the ugprades and new licenses.

Hell, it's not like there isn't licenses for software even in the open-source community or some other *nix software (and I'm not referring to SCO, but decent companies).

Re:Oh, the irony of it.... (1)

DemoLiter1 (700256) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753286)

What banner? I've got none ... :(

Free ? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753132)

Until they have to pay the SCO toll ...

More raids please (5, Funny)

cjcormack (689855) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753133)

Maybe the BSA should carry out more raids and "convert" more people to Linux!

Re:More raids please (5, Funny)

Zemran (3101) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753147)

At $100,000 each raid it would still be more profitable for them than producing reliable software.

Re:More raids please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753178)

Maybe people should stop pirating software.

Re:More raids please (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753198)

Definitely. If everybody got to experience the downside of restrictive licensing personally, then open source would really shine. Selective enforcement is keeping an excessive copyright system alive.

Re:More raids please (1, Insightful)

muirhead (698086) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753217)

CEO Sterling Ball vowed not to give another cent to Microsoft..

There are plenty of sound rational reasons to use open source software. Arn't these anti-microsoft rants simply preaching to already converted hot heads?

Re:More raids please (5, Interesting)

madfgurtbn (321041) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753277)

RTFA. He says the change started as emotional and reactionary, but now he is reaping financial and managerial rewards of his hot-headed decision.

The best part of the article, though, is here:

The other thing is that if you look at productivity. If you put a bunch of stuff on people's desktops they don't need to do their job, chances are they're going to use it. I don't have that problem. If all you need is word processing, that's all you're going to have on your desktop, a word processor. It's not going to have Paint or PowerPoint. I tell you what, our hits to eBay went down greatly when not everybody had a Web browser. For somebody whose job is filling out forms all day, invoicing and exporting, why do they need a Web browser? The idea that if you have 2,000 terminals they all have to have a Web browser, that's crazy. It just creates distractions.

Remember this next time someone does a TCO study. Betcha they don't count the actual productivity of the users as part of TCO.

deja'vu (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753135)

I've seen this here before haven't I?

RAIDED!!! (5, Funny)

dcw3 (649211) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753138)

After being raided by the BSA in 2000

Hey, I knew we went overboard with the Patriot act, but when did the BSA (Boyscouts of America) start doing raids?!?

Dib Dib DMCA (0)

Channard (693317) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753225)

Hey, I knew we went overboard with the Patriot act, but when did the BSA (Boyscouts of America) start doing raids?!?

When they got sponsored by the RIAA and a new litigation and sub-poena serving badges were added to the BSA range.

ok bad pun (1, Funny)

GW Hayduke (19878) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753139)

So they opted away from the "super Sleazy" so they can continue making the "Super Slinky?" /obscure guitarist info

Re:ok bad pun (0)

Intosi (6741) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753275)

Heh heh. Anyways, this article makes me even more proud to say I own a Musicman Stingray5 bass...

That's sweet but... (3, Insightful)

cibus (670787) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753140)

...I'd like to know what Accounting software they use... gnuCash?

Anyways - my axe wil be enjoying openSource crafted strings from now :-D

Oracle Applications.. (2, Insightful)

harmonics (145499) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753263)

I don't know for sure, however don't most Oracle Applications run on Redhat Linux?

I'd imagine the accounting department could be an Oracle shop.

He only talked about removing Microsoft....

h

Re:That's sweet but... (3, Informative)

PerryMason (535019) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753281)

Well you could use Accpac [accpac.com] for example. They've got full Linux support. In my last job I migrated a client's smallish business from a pure Windows shop to pure Linux (they ran Accpac on Win before moving to Accpac on Linux). Its honestly getting to the point where you can do it unless you have specific software requirements. With Evolution, StarOffice and the other drop in replacements for MS software retraining is relatively minimal. My boss was ultimately annoyed though because we lost a fair bit of revenue from the client which used to come from the Windows desktop support.

well he couldv'e seen it coming (2, Insightful)

koekepeer (197127) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753142)

[qoute]
"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."
[/quote]

if you don't agree with the licensing, don't use illegal copies. it's very nice etc that they switched the whole thing to RH, but come on, if you use commercial software you should pay for it.

Re:well he couldv'e seen it coming (4, Insightful)

Loosewire (628916) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753148)

Im sure its incredably difficult to do that when you have a hundred or so machines. Plus in the article it says some of the unlicenced computers were hand me downs - which is unfair to make people re license anyway

Re:well he couldv'e seen it coming (5, Insightful)

Zachary Kessin (1372) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753159)

If instead of sending in the cops to raid him they had send him a polite letter explaining where there might be a problem it probably would have been very different. But they make the licences so crazy that you almost can't help violate them in one way or another if you have a lot of computers.

From the interview it sounds like they were trying to play by the rules, ok maybe their audits where not as good as they should be, but lets be honest most folks have better things to do then audit software once a month.

Re:well he couldv'e seen it coming (1)

koekepeer (197127) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753180)

yeah, as i wrote, i don't agree with it. unfortunately, the BSA has the law on it's side, so you better scrutinize every piece of hardware you own, and the software installed on it

it sucks, but it's reality nowadays in license-land...

little clarification (2, Insightful)

koekepeer (197127) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753162)

i don't agree with M$/BSA methods. but legally, they have the right, and there's not a real excuse to not follow the terms and conditions of a license if you are running a professional business.

no matter how honest and fair this family business of his might be...

now you can mod me to hell, i know i don't have a popular opinion

Re:little clarification (2, Interesting)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753194)

Only if EULAs are indeed valid. That's still not been established fully.

Re:little clarification (5, Insightful)

pubjames (468013) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753205)

i don't agree with M$/BSA methods. but legally, they have the right, and there's not a real excuse to not follow the terms and conditions of a license if you are running a professional business.

That's absolutely correct.

I have a business myself and I tell all my staff "don't use unlicenced software" and they do exactly as I say. And I say, "If you buy software, remember to put the licence and CD-ROM in the software cupboard", and that's what everyone does. And I say "if you buy a computer or recieve a second hand computer, make sure you have all the licences". And do you know, all my staff do that too. Dealing with staff is easy. You just tell them what to do, and they always do it, to the letter, and never forget, and everything is always neat and tidy and wonderfully efficient.

[/end of sarcasm]

I trust you don't actually run your own business with lots of staff?

Re:little clarification (1)

koekepeer (197127) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753234)

well you can be as sarcastic as you like to be

i know few it companies, and i work at a university

the companies i know indeed have such policies. and it works. they were 100 employees, okay, so it's managable, but it *works* if you take care.

and at my own work, well i run linux all the time :)

the few propr. softwares we have are all correctly used withing the licensing terms. our it dept takes care of this. there's no excuse for being sloppy if you're a professional

Re:little clarification (2, Interesting)

pubjames (468013) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753251)

the companies i know indeed have such policies. and it works. they were 100 employees, okay, so it's managable, but it *works* if you take care.

How do you know it works if you've not been audited by the BSA? If these companies were audited, are you sure the BSA wouldn't find any unlicenced software? Tom in engineering wouldn't have given his computer to Berol in accounts when he got a new one and forgotten to wipe all the software off the hard disc, would he?

Re:little clarification (0)

koekepeer (197127) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753287)

read your comment and think

correct policies can prevent these things. and when tom gives it to berol, it's still in the same company, and they paid a license for tom's windows, didn't they?! and it's actually quite smart to wipe your disks before you transfer them from in or out of your company. for more reasons than license compliance.

anyway, the companies i talk about refresh their hardware rather frequently, with preinstalled windows on dell boxes, and get rid of the old stuff. so that's pretty managable...

Re:little clarification (4, Insightful)

Illserve (56215) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753212)

Noone said it's not legal. It's just not a nice way to treat customers. It gives them motivation to leave licenses behind.

In 10 years, we might be saying that the BSA was the worst thing that ever happened to Microsoft and the primary reason that Linux attained desktop market dominance in the corporate world.

Hey a man can dream can't he?

Re:well he couldv'e seen it coming (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753176)

it's very nice etc that they switched the whole thing to RH, but come on, if you use commercial software you should pay for it.

Did you actually read the whole article? His version of the facts is that the BSA complained (among other things, maybe) about unused software that had not been properly deleted from some hard drives when after moving a PC from a department to another. In total, he had something like 8 percent of non-licensed software. And anyway, he said that his main problem was not the about paying for the software, but in the way the BSA raided his company.

Re:well he couldv'e seen it coming (1)

koekepeer (197127) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753257)

yes i read it

'using' was incorrect wording from my side. there's no way to verify whether installed software is being used or not (well, if you try hard...).

the fact remains that the licensing is not talking about using software. it's talking about installing software. *that* it the time when you agree to a license. actually, when you open the box and break the seal, if they have their way.

as i said it sucks, but it's reality

Re:well he couldv'e seen it coming (1)

Badanov (518690) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753181)

Amen to that. But it is definately better to be pissed off by MS than to be pissed on by MS. Ball sounds like he's been dry for a good while from the wetting the BSA and MS gave him. Good on him.

Re:well he couldv'e seen it coming (4, Insightful)

the uNF cola (657200) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753196)

Accidents happen. And it's not always because people slack off. People trip and fall all the time, but we don't go around with our shoe laces untied. We don't walk down the yellow line of a two way road to get to where we want to. Companies don't intend to put the wrong dollar amount on your pay cheque that goes into direct deposit.

But you know what... it happens. It's live. We aren't robots. We tie our shoe laces, try and stay on the side walks and we sign agreements to say, "If we get overpaid, or udner, the company can rectify that w/ the bank directly, w/o us."

There are people who live dangerously, stealing stuff left and right, making a killing and never get caught. This is a case of someone unconsciously making a mistake (misteak, mmmm) and accidentally having one too many copies installed.

If YOU never break the law, kudos to you. I commend you. Hell, run for president. But the rest of us don't mind having judges to weed out the guilty from the innocent. And that same group understands, those same people are fallible. It's why we have a multi layered court system.

The rest of us are human and expected to be treated as such.

TYVM.

Re:well he couldv'e seen it coming (3, Interesting)

KingDaveRa (620784) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753259)

Hear Hear!

Keeping track of software licenses and so on is a real pain in the neck. So-much-so, MS will sell you tools to help you do it. Isn't that nice of them?

I like the way he's (Ball) looked on this though. PCs and their software are just tools. Does it matter what it is, as long as it does the job cheaply and effeciently? How many people have I asked what version of Windows/Office they have on their PC and receive the reply "Microsoft"? Far too many. Companies buy Microsoft because that's what you buy. Same way people only bought IBM PCs because nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.

Just wait, it'll all change.

Re:well he couldv'e seen it coming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753197)

I absolutely agree with you.

I wonder what the response of the slashdot community would have been if it were the terms of the GPL this guy was breaking!

My oppinion is that if you use the software you need to accept the licencing terms.

I do agree, however, that it might have been better for the BSA to go a bit more gently.

Re:well he couldv'e seen it coming (2, Insightful)

Queuetue (156269) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753282)

They were not using the software - it was just left installed. And once again, the guy was willing to (and did) pay for the licenses when the nonconformance was discovered.

He ditched MS because they tried to make an example out of him, not because they tried to collect thier pound of flesh.

he was dobbed in by a disgruntled employee (1)

wadiwood (601205) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753211)

Who could easily have installed illegal software and he would not have known.

Especially if he was running stuff like Win95 and Win98.

But total prevention probably would require making a PC with no interface.

It was obviously not his intention to use software that was not paid for. Otherwise why would there be any compliance?

hey fuckface (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753219)

why don't you read the rest of the article before opening your pie hole.

Re:well he couldv'e seen it coming (2, Insightful)

tlianza (454820) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753230)

if you don't agree with the licensing, don't use illegal copies
RTFA. They weren't using "illegal copies." What they were doing, in the example he gives, is handing computers down from one employee to another, which is somehow a violation of some absurd EULA. I also didn't see him acting resentful at the licensing terms either. His complaint was how they handled it:
"Call me first if you think we have a compliance issue. Let's do a voluntary audit and see what's there."
Instead of treating him (their customer) like a human being, they raided his business and made an example out of him. I'm not saying that Microsoft (or the Business Software Alliance) isn't within their *rights* to do that (they certainly are), but I don't think anyone can look at this and say "hey, this is just an honest company trying to make sure people are playing by the rules." No one's arguing that Ball didn't break the rules, but I think it is clear that it was a mistake on his part, and he seemed very open to helping correct it, had he not been treated so poorly.

Re:well he couldv'e seen it coming (1)

Azghoul (25786) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753266)

Interesting that people seem to think it's the BSA's "right" to perform some kind of raid. Let them try to come onto my private property without police assistance and there would be hell to pay.

how to treat your customers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753246)

"They were using me to sell software, and I just didn't think that was right. Call me first if you think we have a compliance issue. Let's do a voluntary audit and see what's there. They went right for the gut."
he's basically admitting he was under-licenced. he just thinks they needn't have sent the marshalls in first, and then bad-mouthed his company on the news before talking to him

RTFA (2, Insightful)

Databass (254179) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753248)


In the article he says that fewer than 8% of the copies in his business were unlicensed, accidentally leftover when they handed computers down with extraneous applications still on them. They're a guitar string company. They were not, on the whole, a piracy-based criminal organization by any stretch of the imagination but they were treated like one by the BSA. And now they are free from that ever happening again.

Re:well he couldv'e seen it coming (1)

drix (4602) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753268)

Read the article more carefully, Ball is not disputing that: "We won't do business with someone who treats us poorly." That's the crux of the matter. Ball takes issue with the BSA and MS not because he got busted but because they made a point of publicly humiliating his company in the aftermath:
...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.

Nowhere does he complain about getting caught for breaking the law. Only that he was treated like shit and is using his power as a consumer to fight back.

I'm switching (5, Funny)

bunyip (17018) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753143)

Yep - hauling out my piano and dumping it. It's time to learn to play guitar.

I wanna support these guys and I'd feel pretty silly just buying strings.

Alan.

.. and decided to pay SCO instead... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753145)

... vowed not to give another cent to Microsoft and within 6 months, according to CNET News, had the whole company switched to Red Hat Linux, OpenOffice.org, Mozilla, and other free software ...

Re:.. and decided to pay SCO instead... (1)

shakeittotheright (700251) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753201)

i was just going to say that! hopefully sco will be laughed out of court anyway (but that's a different discussion)

Uh (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753149)

Sounds to me like he got what he deserved? They just gloss over the fact that he was undeniably stealing software with no explanation.

Oh, and btw there's a difference between "a few" and a "few dozen", automatically made me skeptical of the poster's motives after I noticed the difference.

Re:Uh (4, Insightful)

Queuetue (156269) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753255)

No, they don't gloss over it. He specifically states that

a) They weren't using it (but it was unintentionally left installed on the wrong machines.)

and

b) He was willing to make restitution, providing MS had offered him a voluntary audit and a fair price on the 5 machines that were infringing.

He washed his hands of MS because they wanted to make an example out of him. That's a bad way to treat a customer, and he bailed on them.

Thats like... (-1, Flamebait)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753152)

someone who lost his driving license because of speeding exlaiming that he will now drive with a bicyle because thats the better way and all cars are bad...
Come one. If these guys were cool, they would have used Linux instead of warez in the fist place

Re:Thats like... (3, Insightful)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753187)

It's hard to keep up with licenses at a small company. I'd venture to say most companies with 50 computers or less have at most one IT person to handle everything. A company with 150-200 clients and a few servers might have 2-3 IT people if they are lucky.

The only reasonable way such a company can ensure full licenses is to pay MS's outrageous "protection money". I forget what they call it, something like "software assurance". When the BSA comes in, you are guilty until proven innocent. Most companies roll over.

Re:Thats like... (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753200)

Well, if it is such a hassle and so expensive, they could have used linux instead.
But they decided to go the microsoft way and dont didnt ensure they had licenses for everything. Bad luck.

I'd feel bad for them... (2, Informative)

Goo.cc (687626) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753155)

but they were illegally using software. Still, there is a lesson to learn from this if your company uses non-Free software.

Re:I'd feel bad for them... (-1, Offtopic)

flyneye (84093) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753170)

I'd feel bad for them,but,theyre lousy guitar strings.

Re:I'd feel bad for them... (3, Insightful)

soundman32 (147936) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753276)

Not really using illegal software, rather just 'possesion'.

If software is on your PC but you never use it, is it being used illegally?

So... (5, Interesting)

Channard (693317) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753158)

1. Get raided for using unlicensed software.

2. Switch to Linux et al.

3. Profit.

Other companies have likely done similar but it's the publicity that counts more than anything - an actual success story with Linux from a company with clout should turn a few heards in the direction of open source.

I own an abacus :) (5, Funny)

CGP314 (672613) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753163)

I don't care if we have to buy 10,000 abacuses

I bet Abacus Inc is pretty pissed at the Red Hat right now. That's one big contract to miss out on.

BSA? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753164)

Organisations like the BSA are allowed to raid people and companies?

I thought only the police could do that - if they have a warrant.

They could have just told them to fuck off when they came to the door.

Let me get this straight... (-1, Insightful)

Talez (468021) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753165)

He had 5 computers in his business with unlicensed software and he's the one that cried unfair.

I got news for you. It's your responsibility to keep track of your software licenses. There are inexpensive tools, hell, even just a standard policy on what to do with machines would go a long way.

Blockquoting the article:

"The guys in engineering need a new PC, so they get one and we pass theirs on to somebody doing clerical work. Well, if you don't wipe the hard drive on that PC, that's a violation. Even if they can tell a piece of software isn't being used."

He got caught because of his sheer laziness and possibly his own ignorance. Making him into a martyr for open source only legitimises the belief that linux is free software (free as in beer) and, to some point, that only software "pirates" (sic) use it.

Must we glorify this man by giving him frontpage?

Re:Let me get this straight... (5, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753202)

Just to get the story _really_ straight:

He wasn't objecting to being nonconformant, license-wise. He is objecting to the manner in which he was treated as a customer. He objected to the very heavy-handed way they treated it, and to the way they decided to hang him out publicly as an example. He also objects to the steep fines imposed (without any court sanction), and the way the law in practice makes it impossible for smaller businesses to contest the BSA assertions in court.

Re:Let me get this straight... (3, Insightful)

jakemk2 (26862) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753239)

I think the point the fact he got raided and sued. If they had sent his company a polite letter stating that they believed he was in violation of some licenes, please do an audit and check, etc etc then he would have probably complied and everyone (supposedly) is happy.

But no, they wanted to make an example of him and so they did. Its just now its an example of how to get away from that world.

J.

Re:Let me get this straight... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753242)

This is a case of breaking someone for not following the letter of the contract even though he followed the spirit of the contract and was a good customer all in all. The illegal installations were not used and had the company known about them, no licenses would have been bought -- the installations would simply have been deleted. The BSA-represented companies lost precisely nothing due to this negligence.

Re:Let me get this straight... (5, Insightful)

dachshund (300733) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753250)

He got caught because of his sheer laziness and possibly his own ignorance.

He got caught because in the process of running a business, he decided not to devote absolutely ridiculuous amounts of time to wiping the harddrives of unused PCs.

And before you accuse the guy of whining, note that he paid his fine, in addition to the presumably hundreds of thousands of legitimate licensing fees that he'd already paid to BSA members.

Now he's doing precisely what a smart businessman should do: recognize that the cost of policing for such tiny violations (and the potential fines that can result) is much higher than the software is worth. He's taking his business elsewhere. And good for him.

laziness and big fines (4, Insightful)

nuggz (69912) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753284)

The point is that he wasn't trying to steal.

They were not intending to defraud, just poor computer administration led to some accidental license violations.

The offensive part is they didn't give an opportunity to clean up the mess when it was pointed out by deleting the unused software, or buying the software. They didn't work with him to develop a system to track this, or even give a nice little FAQ to help him out.

Instead of working with their customer, they settled for $100,000, for 6 infringing computers? $17k per computer in fines and penalties. That's ridiculous, all the software is a fraction of that cost.

When a person makes a mistake, it is reasonable to point it out and suggest that more care should be taken to avoid this in the future. Expecting them to pay for any damage they caused is also reasonable.

Re:Let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753290)

He had 5 computers in his business with unlicensed software and he's the one that cried unfair.

Not only that, he claims Apple is part owned by Microsoft. That's the power of FUD at work, people.

It'd be ironic and sad if he's done all this switching to linux and then be hit with more SCO licensing crap, and Apple end up the better choice in the end.

Here's hoping the legal system see through SCO's charade.

Re:Let me get this straight... (4, Insightful)

DASHSL0T (634167) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753292)

Please. Every company I have ever worked in is "out of compliance" by some amount. I am talking big firms, small firms and everything in between.

The fact is, if you read the article, that he was most upset by how he was treated by the BSA and Microfoft. Which I am guessing you have never had the pleasure of sitting through, either.

Ernie Ball, the world's leading maker of premium g (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753169)

uhm... shouldn't "Ernie Ball, the world's leading maker of premium guitar strings".. have enough $$$ to actually pay for the software they use if they choose to use that specific software?

Has a load of unlicensed copies and then complains about he having to pay for it, whats that guy's major malfunction?

Re:Ernie Ball, the world's leading maker of premiu (1)

Anonymous Shepard (595554) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753193)

Well, he said that he could probably have come to an agreement with MS if he had been treated better. The problem was the way they went about, using his company as a target just to set an example.

Oh come on (5, Interesting)

panurge (573432) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753179)

The BSA went after him because he was well known and too small to fight back. They wanted publicity. I wonder how much of the illegal software was actually being used?

If is true that if you have to pay the legal expenses of the BSA while they prosecute you, then it is time for a flood of feeble "In Soviet America" jokes. Perhaps someone who is a lawyer could explain the situation?

Re:Oh come on (1)

linuxrunner (225041) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753220)

>
> I wonder how much of the illegal software was actually being used?
>

From the article:

"We were out of compliance I figure by about 8 percent (out of 72 desktops)."

That's roughly 6 computers or 5.76 to be exact.

Re:Oh come on (1)

dema (103780) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753279)

Read the article:
San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based company that turned up a few dozen unlicensed copies of programs.

If he's using a few dozens copies of high-end business software, it could EASILY amount to the price he had to pay.

It's nice to see a business move to open source, but it's not like this guy didn't deserve what he got.

GPL Strings (1)

Mas3 (620769) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753184)

Considering M$ everyone could only play Open Source Sounds on this strings :)

--
Mas3
DevCounter [berlios.de] - An open, free & independent developer pool
created to help developers find other developers, help, testers and new project members.

BSA? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753192)

Ernie Ball is a company that makes guitar strings. After being raided by the BSA...

What the hell do the Boy Scouts of America want with guitar strings?

Re:BSA? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753206)

Somebody please mod this fuckie down into the "-1, Redundant" bin.

We've done this in the UK several times... (4, Interesting)

Alkarismi (48631) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753207)

We have a number of medium sized enterprises *fully* migrated to Open Source software, and running *way* better on it.
Our best known (in the UK at least) case study is here [siriusit.co.uk] .
In fact the Group consider Open Source to not merely be a 'substitute' for Microsoft Software, but to have delivered far more real, measurable business benefit than they ever received as a Microsoft Shop.
I am glad Ernie Ball are receiving this great press for their *complete* migration, but they are by no means the first (or the last!) decent-sized enterprise to have done this.

Re:We've done this in the UK several times... (1)

iapetus (24050) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753252)

Not wanting to be a pedant or anything (he lied), but according to that case study, Sirius only migrated their client to open source servers - the desktops still run NT.

Still, it's a start. :)

Re:We've done this in the UK several times... (3, Interesting)

Alkarismi (48631) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753293)

Hey, pedant away ;) You're essentially correct although the case *does* needs a little updating ;)
Whilst it's true that the majority of the desktops are Windows, KG Group have now replaced large numbers with GNU/Linux and MacosX in the places that make the most sense.
The main thrust of the desktop takeover has been the apps. IE and Outlook have long since been replaced with Mozilla. Openoffice is spreading fast, and we are currently migrating access-based databases to LAMP! At this stage the underlying desktop becomes irrelevant and GNU/Linux for everyone becomes easy.

Don't.... (5, Funny)

SushiFugu (593444) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753208)

Do not taunt Happy Ernie Bal...er.. wait, wrong ball.

Fantastic Open Source Advertising Opportunity (5, Interesting)

mattr (78516) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753209)

If we have things like the Perl Foundation which can afford to pay computer scientists salaries, and legal defense from the FSF or perhaps funded by RedHat, it is not a great leap to recognize the possibility of advertising for open source business solutions paid for by the community.

Mr. Ball sounds like a practical businessman, he sounds passionate and as if he enjoys what he does. I wonder if he would be receptive to a business proposition in which he would be featured in commercial advertisements and perhaps provide more precise figures about what it costs him (as he said that analysts are too pessimistic).

As more people like Mr. Ball speak out, the open source community is gaining more people who understand business and can convince other businesses. This man understands that free software can still cost money, and he has the personal experience and business acumen to be able to boil things down to the most important, concise points. He mentiones several important points in his interview, and probably has tons more knowledge that would be useful to making open source a better business solution, and making open source profitable.

It might not be such a bad idea for companies and individuals who are considering funding open source projects to listen to such people when considering project goals. And it would not be so difficult for free software organizations to initiate commerical projects including creating advertisements and articles based on solid, no-nonsense business cases for open source featuring real-world successes like Ernie Ball.

Re:Fantastic Open Source Advertising Opportunity (2, Interesting)

Alkarismi (48631) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753260)

You're correct - communicating the benefits of OSS in business terms it *precisely* what is needed to bring about acceptance in the enterprise.
You and I are already convinced. Business people don't think in the terms we do, nor do they see why they should. If GNU/Linux and OSS are to achieve the position we all know they should we are going to have to learn to talk this talk.

Being a guitarist ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753221)

and an ex-geek, this news simply rules.
But the real question is ... are they worried about SCO?

Actually (5, Insightful)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753222)

I would blame the software vendors for making proof of ownership too difficult (for over a decade most people tossed the software packaging). They changes the rules midgame and the politicians let them get away with it.

Most businesses being small businesses or starting out as small businesses' aren't that savvy about IP law. Or the DCMA. In the end the market will react either by the software vendors backing off, the law changing, or people doing what this guy did and choosing alternatives.

Show me proof of ownership for your toilet. Bet you can't!

Re:Actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753236)

it's called a receipt from the shop you bought it from you dumb-ass ... come'on it's not that hard!

Re:Actually (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753283)

So you kept the receipt to your toilet?!

Re:Actually (1)

iapetus (24050) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753285)

So you still have the receipt for your toilet? Excellent. Care to scan it and make it available for Slashdot readers everywhere? :)

Eww.. (0)

Channard (693317) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753238)

Show me proof of ownership for your toilet. Bet you can't!

What if you have it 'specially marked'?

Re:Actually (5, Funny)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753254)

Show me proof of ownership for your toilet. Bet you can't!

Will a hard dump of its contents do?

Bass strings too! (2, Informative)

nenneth (258001) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753223)

Probably of zero interest to most of the /. crowd, but they make some very funky bass strings as well.

Ernie Ball Extra Slinkies are great for playing slap bass / funk in general, very "twangie" sound.

Re:Bass strings too! (1, Offtopic)

Tyler Eaves (344284) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753262)

Lately I've been playing Thomastik-Infeld [thomastik-infeld.com] 's on my two basses. The powerbass (roundwound, great for slap, and plenty of bottom too, plus they last forever) on my P-Bass and Jazz Flats on my 6-string fretless. Those are amazing strings. Almost as bright as roundwounds, but again, last forever and don't chew up the fingerboard. They're made in Austria, and I doubt you'd find in 'em in stores in the US. I get mine from juststrings.com

OS NEWS (1)

djcdplaya (220461) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753228)

Ok, I copy and paste too, but I give credit where it's due.

This is pretty much a copy & paste job from yesterday's OSNEWS.com. At least give them credit.

who the hell (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753229)

who the hell bends over for the BSA? .. bunch of
wanna be banana republic junta motherfuckers ..
i'd love to see them try that shit with a company
that has a few lawyers up their sleeves .. bully
boy assholes .. fuck the bunch of 'em

Nice, but only good on new hardware. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753235)

OpenOffice, mozilla don't make good use of the hardware, especially with >1Ghz and >128Mb of ram, Openoffice just slows to a halt or crash and burn. Yes we have tried OpenOffice 1.1, but its still too slow, just because they changed the bootstrap sequence to make the initial window appeear faster, dosent means its fast now.. Mozilla is not so bad if you don't use the XUL front end (use a front end such as jan6 [mozdev.org] , thunderbird [mozilla.org] (which is the browser we use), or konqueror).
Our company runs Microsoft office 2000 on our 300 gentoo workstations that have 128 Mb. We can't afford the $150,000 to upgrade the RAM (and the hard drives) so we can use OpenOffice (and then face the horrible fonts it uses as it uses its own propeitry font handling system)

My company outsources about 15% of its programming work to taiwan and the poor support for the Chinese character set means we have to run the Chinese version of Microsoft Office on a dedicated windows 98 box to read the documents from the taiwanese office. (no, crossover office dosen't work on non english versions of Microsoft Office).

So to summurize, for our company to be to completey Linuxized, we need a unbloated version of openoffice that can work with >128 Mb of ram and a version of crossover office that supports the Chinese edition of microsoft office.

Fined? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753261)

by who? the BSA are not a law enforcement agency. they have no more rights to sue someone for software piracy than i do.

he owes his business to Microsoft (5, Interesting)

DuctTape (101304) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753269)

A more enlightening part of the article:

But I've got to tell you, I couldn't have built my business without Microsoft, so I thank them. Now that I'm not so bitter, I'm glad I'm in the position I'm in. They made that possible, and I thank them.

I'll take that to mean that when he needed the software that Open Source wasn't around yet. But I wonder if we'll see that quote used by Microsoft anyway.

DT

Most Interesting quote (5, Insightful)

DataCannibal (181369) | more than 11 years ago | (#6753270)

I think the most interesting quite from the article was this


They're all trying to build servers that already exist and do a whole bunch of stuff that's already out there...I think there's a lot of room to not just create an alternative to Microsoft but really take the next step and do something new.

Listen to him guys, he's a CEO.

Now I'm going to take those Fenders off, thay don't twang like they used to, and get me some Ernie Balls.

Simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6753272)

Use the license service on windows, use MS SMS to monitor apps etc

Its theyre own fault, yet they blame MS, go figure.

No sympathy here.
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