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BSA Software Piracy Fight Smacks of RIAA Crackdown

Zonk posted more than 5 years ago | from the making-enemies-in-all-places dept.

Software 282

Ron Paul Dennis Kucinich writes "A Business Software Alliance raid on musical-instrument maker Ernie Ball Inc. cost the company $90,000 in a settlement. Soon after, Microsoft sent other businesses in the region around Ball's a flyer offering discounts on software licenses, along with a reminder not to wind up like Ernie Ball. Enraged, CEO Sterling Ball vowed never to use Microsoft software again, even if 'we have to buy 10,000 abacuses.' Similar BSA raids around the country have been provoking strong reactions from put-upon business owners, echoing similar reactions to music-lovers targeted by the RIAA."

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282 comments

The solution is simple (0, Redundant)

NeoTron (6020) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476555)

Switch to Linux.

no need for abacuses.

Enough said.

Re:The solution is simple (2, Interesting)

Slashidiot (1179447) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476565)

Yep, if you read TFA, that's what they did.

Enraged, CEO Sterling Ball vowed never to use Microsoft software again, even if "we have to buy 10,000 abacuses." He shifted to open-source software, which lacks such legal entanglements because its underlying code is freely distributed.

Re:The solution is simple (4, Informative)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476617)

Yep, if you read TFA, that's what they did.
Yep. About 5 years ago. [infoworld.com]

Seriously, this is old.

Re:The solution is simple (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477337)

No, it's not, RTFA. The article summarizes the current state of affairs concerning the BSA.

Re:The solution is simple (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477477)

No, it's not, RTFA.
Where do you think you are ;)

Seriously though - you're right, the article is an interesting read and the summary is, let's be honest, completely misleading.

Re:The solution is simple (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477529)

I concur :-)

Re:The solution is simple (2, Interesting)

Plunky (929104) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476757)

| Yep, if you read TFA, that's what they did.

Thats funny, I read TFA and linux was not mentioned at all..

            "open source" > "linux"

Re:The solution is simple (1)

Calinous (985536) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476879)

Even after the move (which came with other benefits), they were still using Windows on one or two computers (to run some accounting application)

Re:The solution is simple (1)

limber (545551) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476951)

Amusingly...

"The company still runs its critical business applications on a Unix server using an accounting package from The SCO Group, formerly Caldera International."

(from TFA)

Re:The solution is simple (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476763)

In the long run, it would be easier and cheaper for businesses to invest in open source software with a generous license.

No need to monitor licenses (or have lawyers interpret the licenses for you), no company lock-in, no BSA worries or worries about disgruntled employees, no extra book keeping to keep track of licenses, receipts, or hardware (with licensed software already installed). And of course, it's easily and infinitely customizable because the source code is available.

Re:The solution is simple (1)

MrMickS (568778) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476905)

Simpler solution. Don't pirate software. They wouldn't pirate guitars, just because its possible to install the software onto more than one machine doesn't mean they should.

Re:The solution is simple (4, Informative)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477057)

Apparently everyone who knows the case agrees that Ernie Ball didn't intend to pirate. Things like that happen in businesses, especially small ones. Responsibilities move and the software moves with them. People install random stuff without authorization. Receipts get lost (I understand that the BSA requires not only proof of licens but proof of purchase, as well).

Saying "Don't pirate" is easy. Getting a company of any size to reach 100% compliance is utterly painful. It's no different than being autdited by the IRS -- they're going to get you for something.

Re:The solution is simple (3, Insightful)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477107)

Last time I checked the licencing for the student/teacher edition of Powerpoint (I believe 2003) it allowed installation on three seperate machines.

Then there's the per device and per user licencing.

It'd be easy to keep track of if the only licencing model out there was "one key, one system" but in order to appease big businesses there's volume licencing, and that spread out into other different models. The fact that there are businesses out there who exist simply to keep track of licences says there's something dreadfully wrong with the current system.

Re:The solution is simple (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477155)

They probably would pirate guitars if they figured out a way to. :)

Using open source is the better option. Far less paper work and its a lot simpler.

Re:The solution is simple (1)

faloi (738831) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477735)

Don't pirate software is one thing. And I'd be willing to bet they didn't intend to pirate software. Hiring enough of an IT staff to be sure you stay in compliance, and that won't bend to pressure to "just get a system up and running" before they've licensed the software (or stay after it enough to make sure you do get the license soon after) is another option. The bottom line is that most small companies won't do it. I'd be willing to bet that most businesses that pirate software in the States aren't intending to pirate software. It's the odd install of Office on a new machine to get it on someones desk, or installing XP back over Vista on your new machine because the software you need won't run on Vista (and you don't know that, in some cases, you can trade "down" to XP).

Re:The solution is simple - Not really (2, Insightful)

Herschel Cohen (568) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477745)

Looking at a shelf next to my desk I see software I purchased and until recently I had a complete paper trail. Having learned I need not keep all my business records for tax purposes I have been shredding old receipts, etc that are too old to be of interest to the IRS. Now despite the fact that I have not run a Windows machine for business (Linux only here) since 2001 or 2002 and the software resides in only their respective boxes, I might be, now, technically in non-compliance. Why should I have to worry about rules that are more excessive than I need to follow for business, tax purposes?

BSA Tip Line (2, Funny)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476559)

Maybe the RIAA will take a page out of the BSA play book and start a tip line. I can see it now "Drop the dime on your friends, family, and coworkers and get a free Brittany Spears CD!"

Re:BSA Tip Line (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21476579)

Or the other way around -- give us the name of a music pirate, or we'll flood your mailbox with Britney Spears CDs!

That should frighten anyone with ears.

Re:BSA Tip Line (3, Funny)

bytesex (112972) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476787)

I don't have ears, you insensitive clod ! Maybe they could threaten to flood my inbox with those upskirts pics instead.

Actually, you want to kill BSA/RIAA?? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21476619)

DO call the tip line with company names. Piss off enough of the companies and yes, they will switch to Apple or Linux rather than deal with these nazis. At this time, there is not enough harassment, just intimidation.

Re:Actually, you want to kill BSA/RIAA?? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21476639)

I [heart] Apple, and I'm typing this on a PowerBook right now, but they're a member of the BSA.

10,000 Abacuses? (3, Insightful)

Matti-han (923613) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476563)

My dear sir, let me introduce you to something called 'linux'. I favor Kubuntu myself.

Re:10,000 Abacuses? (2, Informative)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477703)

Actually, Ernie Ball uses RedHat [news.com] .

Re:10,000 Abacuses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21477811)

Many years ago I read about a Harley Davidson dealer hit by the the BSA to the tune of $500K. He then went 100% OSS. I found it strange that I heard so little of BSA actions as the flood of RIAA suits were hitting th e news. I attributed it to the rise of a valid competitors like Linux OS and OSS appications.

So I find it odd that the BSA is back in the news as Linux is a stronger competitor than ever. Unfortunately for these people they got smacked, however it is a new wake up call to Administrators to run audits and get there licenses in order. Better yet subscribe to the easiest license to abide by, the GPL.

If a disgruntled employee drops a dime on you, it can cost thousands of dollars and many headaches to "prove your innocence".

10,000 abacuses? How about 10,000 Linux installs? (1, Informative)

MostAwesomeDude (980382) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476573)

Both cheaper, and more powerful.

Also, I have a lot of respect for Ernie Ball products; their guitar strings are my favorite. I'm relating this story to my local LUG. They deserve some respect for publicly denouncing MS.

Re:10,000 abacuses? How about 10,000 Linux install (1)

Kawahee (901497) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477335)

I'm relating this story to my local LUG. They deserve some respect for publicly denouncing MS
I don't know what kind of spin you're going to put on it, but a company was rightfully fined for using Microsoft software illegally. Yeah, they might have drawn the short straw for (what it sounds like from the article) accidently running a few too many copies of a piece of software, but what they were doing was illegal.

Re:10,000 abacuses? How about 10,000 Linux install (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21477405)

And illegal does not mean wrong. In this case, the law is deeply wrong, so they were wrongfully fined. The law does not determine right and wrong. Copyright should be abolished. http://questioncopyright.org/ [questioncopyright.org]

Re:10,000 abacuses? How about 10,000 Linux install (5, Informative)

ricegf (1059658) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477515)

a company was rightfully fined for using Microsoft software illegally

No, a company was fined for not being able to prove they were not using Microsoft software illegally.

Although the EULA doesn't state they must provide a receipt for the software, or that the "Certificate of Authenticity" doesn't certify that the software is authentic (go figure), that is the standard to which Microsoft holds its customers on penalty of lawsuit or (more commonly) extortion.

I received two letters from the BSA in 2003, both warning me that I could be liable for "hundreds of thousands of dollars" if they audit my business and I am unable to prove that every copy of their member company's software was legally purchased. They helpfully offered, "Can your business afford that risk?"

Y'know, I couldn't. I switched to free-as-in-freedom software.

Yes, he REALLY meant abacuses (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21476575)

Come on you nerds, he said it for dramatic effect. HE IS NOT GOING TO START SLIDING FUCKING NOBS ACROSS STICKS.

So you can stop saying "no need for abacuses! try linux!"

Re:Yes, he REALLY meant abacuses (1)

lewko (195646) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476843)

I think you'll find he was probably referring to this [cityu.edu.hk] .

Authority for raids? (4, Interesting)

shawnmchorse (442605) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476577)

I've never understood this. The BSA is obviously just a trade group with no authority whatsoever to conduct raids and such. If they decide they need to "raid" a business, then generally they would just have a suspicion that this business 'might' have some of their software installed and some of that software 'might' not be fully licensed. Is that really enough for local law enforcement to go along with it? A lot of the coverage I've read about BSA raids seems to imply that the business involved went along with the raid voluntarily, and I have trouble understanding why any business would do so.

Re:Authority for raids? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21476631)

Ever read a EULA?
I haven't, but you grant them permission in there somewhere.

Re:Authority for raids? (4, Funny)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476655)

Like DMCA Title IV Section 408 [xkcd.com] ?

Re:Authority for raids? (4, Informative)

nacturation (646836) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476859)

It goes like this:

BSA: "We have reliable evidence from a confidential source [read: disgruntled (ex-)employee] that you don't have valid licenses to the software you use."
Company: "You don't have any authority over us. GTFO."
BSA: "Fine."

[BSA starts suit against company, submits evidence to a judge, and during the discovery period requests complete documentation of all software being run on company systems, along with licenses and date of purchase. If company fails to provide, BSA files for a motion to compel or some such legal mumbo-jumbo that basically gives the BSA the judge-approved legal right to take apart every computer and really ruin their day.]

BSA: "According to what we found, it appears you're liable for tens of millions of dollars of damages according to current copyright fines."
Company: "Err... gosh, maybe we overlooked purchasing a few hundred software licenses here and there. Our bad. Say, do you have any kind of compliance deal for companies like ours who accidentally used unlicensed software on every computer we own and where we don't have to admit guilt?"
BSA: "Sure, just fork over $90,000 on top of paying our legal bills and purchasing licenses for all that software we discovered, you admit no wrongdoing, but you also agree to annual audits from here on."
Company: "Yeah, again, our bad... hey, who should we make this payable to?"

[Company makes the payment, BSA cashes it, company buys licenses to all software, and BSA files motion to dismiss suit.]
 

Re:Authority for raids? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21477097)

The BSA works like a state medical board for licensing doctors. A private organization enforcing rules that stand up in court.

Doctors usually lose their license for messing with the business model, not for incompetence.

Re:Authority for raids? (1)

UKRevenant (996944) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477649)

The BSA send around letters offering to do free audits for companies, complete with scare stories about what happens if they are found to be using unlicensed software. Giving the impression that they are doing you a favour by enabling you to head off such a situation.

What they actually do is audit you and then threaten you if they find you short of licenses so you have to pay up. The audit is used to gather the evidence they would need for a court case.

Trading Standards have in the past advised businesses to bin the BSA letters, this still remains the best thing to do with software audit offers. You should do it yourself and that way no one can hold you to ransom over the findings. You should also make it clear to anyone who has the ability (log in permissions not necessarily technical) to never install anything without being able to show entitlement to do so.

Dupe (4, Informative)

phayes (202222) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476581)

This is the oldest dupe I've seen on slashdot! [slashdot.org]

Re:Dupe (4, Informative)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476737)

Actually TFS was the "big" dupe, the contents of TFA is at least not.. TFS was extracted from the bottom "past references" because it sounds sensational. (I would even have a hard time finding TFS from TFA if not for Search)

Re:Dupe (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476819)

It's so old, we should actually revisit the "case" and see how he's been doing sans MS products. Anyone wanna contact them?

Re:Dupe (1)

blind monkey 3 (773904) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476975)

This is still old but Three years [osv.org.au] after the event.

Great news (3, Insightful)

Slashidiot (1179447) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476623)

I think this is great news for FOSS people. Up until now, most software vendors have been quite generous on their piracy tolerance. If these companies start pushing it hard, and making people pay, things will start changing.

Many people just download photoshop because that's what they know. If they have to pay for it, there will be a HUGE shift to GIMP. And that's even more true with Microsoft stuff, at least in Spain. I know very few people who have bought a copy of Windows (not counting what came with the computer). But it's easy to pirate, so they go for it. If they faced fines of 1000 euro for it (or had to pay 300 to buy it in the first place), a lot of people would consider linux. Now, both are free (in practice), so price is not a problem when choosing. Factor that in, and things look very different.

So, good news, people will start using what they need, and not the professional (and expensive) tool for home stuff. And that usually means open source.

Re:Great news (1)

hidden (135234) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476649)

In my ideal world, you would be correct. However...

In reality, the computer already has windows installed, so replacing it with linux is a fairly major effort. To use your photoshop example, I suspect rather more people would purchase something like PaintShopPro, than would install GIMP...and it would meet their needs quite nicely, for much less money,

Re:Great news (1)

rolfc (842110) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476725)

Install Gimp on windows, wouldnt cost them a penny, or a cent or anything except their time.

Re:Great news (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476889)

They could also install Paint.NET on Windows, which is free and I much prefer.

Never been one for the 'separate window for everything' layout of Gimp.

Re:Great news (2, Interesting)

Virgil Tibbs (999791) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477147)

search google for gimpshop and your criticisms will vanish

Re:Great news (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477823)

Install Gimp on windows, wouldnt cost them a penny, or a cent or anything except their time.
But make sure to try GIMP 2.2.17 in addition to the new 2.4 series. The 2.4 series has changed the way the user selects and deselects pixels, making it a pain in the ass to move the selected pixels within a layer.

Re:Great news (1)

ricegf (1059658) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477563)

replacing it with linux is a fairly major effort

The real seismic shift is from proprietary Windows-only applications to free and portable applications.

Once all of your applications are available on both Windows and Linux, "fairly major effort" above becomes "fairly trivial effort".

Re:Great news (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476825)

you miss the critical thing, the BSA only tends to go after buisnesses.

So people get hooked on expensive software like photoshop through pirate copies then when they need to use it for work they buy it legit.

As for windows virtually everyone in the western world pays for it as part of thier computer purchase. Most PC vendors would not dare sell a machine with pirate windows preloaded (especially in theese days of WGA which invites users to rat on thier supplier in exchange for a free windows license) and most users expect windows installed and working when they buy the machine.

Ahh!!! (3, Funny)

NickCatal (865805) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476647)

Submitted by 'Ron Paul Dennis Kucinich'

Oh my god, Slashdot has become Reddit

2002 News? Really? (5, Informative)

svunt (916464) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476651)

Five years is an awfully long time ago. Heads up, editors :)

What ever happened to that saying (1)

Ekhymosis (949557) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476661)

No one ever got fired for buying Microsoft? ...oh wait. But seriously, this whole licensing crap is really pissing off many people/companies who most likely have legit copies that mysteriously flag as illegal. While this is indeed old news, I'm glad this will bring some new people to the FOSS camp as an alternative to draconian licensing deals, etc. The more positive news for FOSS, the better, no?

Re:What ever happened to that saying (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21476713)

fckgw-rhqq2-yxrkt-8tg6w-2b7q8

that's from memory...

i wonder how many machines were loaded with that key.

Re:What ever happened to that saying (1)

crowbarsarefornerdyg (1021537) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476771)

I think this is _justified_ AC posting. Heh.

Re:What ever happened to that saying (1)

Zathruss (451471) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477015)

Damn that serial look familiar...

Re:What ever happened to that saying (1)

Kredal (566494) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477133)

http://www.fukung.net/v/7434/winxp_early.jpg [fukung.net]

That picture is work safe.. can't speak for the rest of the site though. (:

Re:What ever happened to that saying (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476865)

I do wish BSA would somehow attack Harvard and then get such a whacking by 10,000 trust-fund wanna-be lawyers and their interns, that they give back the name to Boy Scouts of America.
OTOH, i do buy games like Company of Heroes to promote good games so that the manufacturers make more such excellent games.
Seriously why can't OS be prices at $39.39 instead of 129...

Re:What ever happened to that saying (1)

Young Gemini (1140425) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476945)

What copy of Windows is $129? Or is that the price of an upgrade copy of Vista home basic or whatever?

Re:What ever happened to that saying (1)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477417)

here vista ultimate costs $751 Australian rrp, more than enough for a perfectly good pc in itself.... well, assuming it wasn't going to run vista of course

Re:What ever happened to that saying (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477787)

Whitebox OEM vista home basic and XP home go for arround £50 inc VAT (our equivilent of sales tax) here in the uk. It is widely belived that the big vendors pay even less.

OK if you're a poor student P2P'ing music, but... (2, Interesting)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476673)

If you're the target of the BSA, I don't feel as much remorse...

If you don't have the money to pay for the software your business use, you shouldn't use the software in the first place.

Re:OK if you're a poor student P2P'ing music, but. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21476823)

Erm.. this has nothing to do with paying for software.

If you don't have a license AND a receipt for every piece of software you have on each computer in your company/organization, you could be a BSA target and have to pay fines.

The requirement to keep licenses to prove where you purchased the software is what puts it over the top, the resources to do that causes the total cost of ownership even higher.

Not so simple. (3, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477009)

The problem I see is it's not just that. You don't just need money to pay for the software you use, you need money to pay to keep track of it for X years and all the other associated crap. And some of those license thingies are kinda grey or complicated - per server, per client, concurrent clients, users (this could be vague), concurrent users, host, CPU (socketted), CPU core, MHz etc. Not just that, they can change from year to year. IIRC Windows XP Home was previously not for multiprocessor systems, but when multicore x86 CPUs came out, Microsoft said they meant socketed CPUs.

"The BSA considers software pirated if a company can't produce a receipt for it, no matter how long ago it was purchased. Software boxes or certificates of authenticity are no help, because the BSA argues the software could have been obtained from an illegitimate source."

Does that mean even if you have Windows XP and MS Office certs stuck on the PC with a 1:1 cert:install mapping it doesn't count? What idiocy is that? I know lots of businesses will have difficulty retaining receipts and records longer than a few years. Might be in a box somewhere but nobody left in the company will know about it.

Whether the PC was stolen or not, if the cert+ key is real Microsoft etc already have got paid for it.

It could even be a gift, believe me people do donate software. I'm sure many churches and charitable organisations get such stuff. You don't always get receipts for that.

Thing is the BSA might have a different agenda from the companies it represents.

I heard the Microsoft boss in my country handled piracy cases differently - he told off his staff who apparently were going around taking people to court etc. Basically his opinion was these people were happy users of Microsoft software, all his staff needed to do was to convince them to license. Which shouldn't be too hard - "Hi, would you like to pay the $$$$$ per infringing copy (plus bosses risk imprisonment) or $$$ per licensed copy?". ;)

Instant sale. Don't even need to send them any fancy media or boxes. Don't even need to send people to help install and configure the software - they've already done all that work themselves.

Only send in the thugs if they refuse to license after you find out they are noncompliant.

Re:Not so simple. (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477813)

IIRC Windows XP Home was previously not for multiprocessor systems, but when multicore x86 CPUs came out, Microsoft said they meant socketed CPUs.
Sure when ordinary home systems started coming with hyperthreading then multicore MS had to allow the home edition to run on them.

IIRC that was a technically enforced limitation not a license limitation though.

Can we get a new icon? (4, Funny)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476675)

something with a handgun and a foot?

Microsoft fanbois. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476729)

Im REALLY wondering how are you going to rationalize this racketeering 'sales' practice employed by your beloved firm.

uhm.... (2)

SuperDre (982372) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476769)

The reason mister Bell is angry is not really because of the Raid (ofcourse he isn't happy with it, but that's his own fault).. The reason he is angry is because his name got mentioned in the flyer, and that's something I can agree on.. But again, the whole article is written as a sensationarticle (by linking it to RIAA) as if he is angry because of the raid..

No sympathy for Ball. (2, Interesting)

t0qer (230538) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476795)

Ball should have paid for their software.

I've mostly worked in desktop support for over 1/3rd of my life so far. I don't do cubicles or offices anymore unless it's a favor for someone that's not going to be a pain in the ass, or ask me to do back breaking work (like breaking my back lifting an 200lb IBM netfinity server onto a rack). No no, those days are over.

Over those years though I can't recount how many times a customer would need a windows re-install, or an office re-install, whatever. I'd ask for the original CD and they'd tell me "Don't you have a copy?"

The "Don't you just have a copy?" people were the same people that would nag and haggle me on my billing, like it was some sort of open air arab market, instead of a indoor air conditioned "professional" workplace.

These days i've all but quit doing IT type support, cept for a few special cases. My current business/company uses windows, and i've gotten legit copies from various places. A few programmer friends got me copies of XP from the MS employee store for $35 each, which I have running on 2 machines. I also purchased a copy for another machine for $99. The rest of the machines at my business are running Linux.

Open Office does fine for me.

Maybe because I started off in IT and knew what type jerks steal stuff, I made a personal choice that I didn't want to be like them.

Re:No sympathy for Ball. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21476873)

Didn't RTFA did you? From TFA

"The BSA considers software pirated if a company can't produce a receipt for it, no matter how long ago it was purchased. Software boxes or certificates of authenticity are no help, because the BSA argues the software could have been obtained from an illegitimate source."
Nice.

Have you got receipts for all those copies of XP your mates bought for you? Does the EULA on those copies allow a non Microsoft employee to install them?

Sorry for posting AC, I read /. a lot but I can't be bothered creating an account.

Re:Missing sales recipts = piracy (2, Informative)

Technician (215283) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477025)

Over those years though I can't recount how many times a customer would need a windows re-install, or an office re-install, whatever. I'd ask for the original CD and they'd tell me "Don't you have a copy?"

At the same time, did you insist on a copy of the sales reciept?

The BSA is considering copies with certificates of authenticity as sketchy if they are missing the sales reciepts. At home, anything off warranty is missing the sales reciept. The news of the BSA audits is definately encouraging me to go 100% legit. I have a machine that came with Windows that was given to me brand new. I don't have a reciept. It is currently dual boot, but the next hard drive replacement won't include the bundled software.

The software license for some software is licensed for installation on only one PC. The license for some other software is licensed for any PC you or your family has, and may be freely copied and given away as long as you comply with the requirements of the license, such as providing a copy of the source code.

Guess which software license I prefer.

Total sympathy for Ball (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21477357)

Microsoft used their company name to publicly shame them in its advertisements.

"Don't end up like Ernie Ball"

Of course, ending up running all FOSS isn't so bad.

The thing is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21477435)

The thing is if you can't prove you have a license, it's the same thing as piracy.

If you bought a legit copy years ago and didn't save the box and/or receipt. Sorry Charlie, you're a pirate.

If you gave a secretary a hand-me-down PC and didn't bother wiping that old copy of Photoshop off the drive. Sorry Charlie, you're a pirate.

The point is you don't actually have to "pirate" software to be a pirate in the eyes of the BSA. It's up to you to prove you're not a pirate. Guilty till proven innocent.

Re:No sympathy for Ball. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21477449)

I agree with you 100%. This is just the normal situation of internet fanbois crying and screaming and generally bitching because they got caught.
You can't whine that microsoft are evil, then pirate their software, then whine you get caught. you just look like a prick. It's just a pity the fines were not way higher.

Big problem for smaller businesses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21476803)

License compliance is not such a big deal for larger businesses, they can get company wide deals and afford dedicated compliance officers.
It's also not a big problem for very small businesses (say, less than 10 PCs), since they'll probably run with the copy of windows supplied with them and have individual per PC licenses for other products (assuming they intend to be legal). The biggest problems are probably for businesses which fall somewhere in the middle who can't afford a dedicated compliance officer; they often need to buy excessive unneeded licenses to be absolutely sure they're not only legal, but can easily prove it if raided.

Seriously though (2, Insightful)

nighty5 (615965) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476829)

we're congratulating a company for copying software from major vendors and they got caught, and they should be treated like some savour? I'm sick to death of hearing companies feel they are the victim when they COPY software without paying for it. You can bet your bottom dollar Ernie Ball wouldn't work for free by giving out guitars so why should a software company?

The fact is, they willingly copied software and got caught and they paid the consequences. Although it seems based on the article it was only 8% unauthorised, they only changed over when they were caught, if they were really supportive of open source they would of moved off their propriety systems long ago.

I work in IT, and I pay for software that I use, if I can't afford it I find something else - its no excuse to copy it.

Nothing to see here move along.

Re:Seriously though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21476863)

You can bet your bottom dollar Ernie Ball wouldn't work for free by giving out guitars
They also don't try to charge over and over for zero-actual-cost copies of the one guitar they made five years ago. If they want to sell two guitars, they have to make two guitars.

Wake me up when software companies have to do the same thing. Until then, it's stupid to cry about people making copies without paying, since each extra copy costs them nothing. If I pirate MS Office, it's no worse from MS's perspective than if I just use OpenOffice instead - either way, they're not getting my money.

Re:Seriously though (3, Informative)

Technician (215283) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477091)

I work in IT, and I pay for software that I use, if I can't afford it I find something else - its no excuse to copy it.

Do you have a copy of the reciept for every piece of software? That thumb drive that uses an encryption program... which is installed on the PC, where is the reciept for that $10 thumb drive? No reciept is a violation... Just ask the BSA or read the article. There is almost nobody in full compliance. My biggest violation is a lack of reciepts. All my copies of MS Office are in violation except the newest one simply because I haven't kept the reciepts.

These violations are being weeded out as I migrate to Ubuntu and dispose of the obsolete high liability software.

Re:Seriously though (1)

nighty5 (615965) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477177)

I do, but home users aren't their primary target I'd say. I think the BSA would bend more for home users but businesses make a living off software so they are considered more of a target. Years ago it was hard to track software licenses but these days its not hard too if you really want to. However I do believe companies deserve a chance to mend their ways and you'll probably find the 90k they were "fined" was equal to the software they used without a license. I could be wrong but I think you'll find BSA will only target large vendor software company products.

As a side note I use True Crypt on my USB drives - its free, cross platform, and is even more flexible than PGP Disk (which I used prior until my license expiring). http://www.truecrypt.org/ [truecrypt.org] .

Re:Seriously though (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477309)

As a side note I use True Crypt on my USB drives - its free, cross platform

That is a fantastic point. The BSA is taking credit for a reduction in the percent of software piracy from it's high in the 1990's to it's current low level. The total amount pirated is "Quadrupled" simply because there is more software.

The biggie, is there are many more vendors in the software arena. The prices have come down, so affordable alternatives are easy to get. I don't need Photoshop. I can use Arcsoft which came bundled with my camera, or use The Gimp.

As the BSA pushes, the true price of software starts to show in not only the purchase price, but the liability. Then consumers start to make informed choices.

Revenge Au Gratin (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476841)

The BSA is a useful tool for revenge against companies that treat their employees like shit. These are often the same companies that blatantly pirate business software, since they are willing to do anything, legal or illegal, to screw their employees, customers and suppliers out of a buck.

The IRS also has a tax informant reward program, which is useful if you know that your employer is cheating on their taxes.

Old Story (1)

pilsner.urquell (734632) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476855)

Been there, done that. There was once an operating system (and I use the term loosely) put out by Microsoft, Windows 3.1, and it was the last dime I gave William.

They've got the news outlets in on it too... (2, Insightful)

JakiChan (141719) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476899)

When I was looking at Yahoo news today I saw no less than 3 articles in the Technology section about the BSA. Seems like they're tricking the news services into running free scare-tactics PR for them.

Re:They've got the news outlets in on it too... (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477187)

Seems like they're tricking the news services into running free scare-tactics PR for them.

Unfortunately for them, it is getting businesses into compliance. High risk high cost software is discontinued as a possible business buster as low risk software becomes good enough.

Missing reciepts for MS Office and Photoshop are high risk liabilities. Missing reciepts for The Gimp and Open Office is no problem.

There are several high profile companies using open source.
http://www.aaxnet.com/design/linux2.html [aaxnet.com]
http://mtechit.com/linux-biz/ [mtechit.com] Click on each catagory for the list of companies.
As of 2003-03-18, there are 557 entries in this list.

AutoCad Substitute? (2, Insightful)

meburke (736645) | more than 5 years ago | (#21476979)

OK, there are adequate substitutes for Windows, Photoshop, and MSOffice (especially OxygenOffice), but it is real hard to find good OSS substitutes for Visio, AutoCad and MSProject. A few years ago, AutoCad was listed as the second most used application in the World. The OSS substitute would have to be absolutely awesome to compete with AutoCad. This may be one of the best-designed apps in existence, the tech support is pretty good, the legacy is humongous, and everyone is educated in it.

Now my needs are bit modest, so I get by with SketchUp, and Alibre, (although my versions are not free, they do offer free versions), but a major Engineering company might have a rough time finding an easy-to-use substitute.

Re:AutoCad Substitute? (2, Informative)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477251)

For visio, you could use OODraw, with some templates. Or use cad software with the same. I'm aware of Dia, but I've used it a couple of times and wasn't overly impressed.

AutoCAD substitute? Try CATIA... (2, Informative)

Panaqqa (927615) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477375)

After all, if it's good enough to be Boeing's primary 3D CAD tool, it should work for autocad users. Not sure if it's available for Linux yet, but Sun's Solaris will run it.

Check it out here [wikipedia.org] .

Re:AutoCad Substitute? (1)

jesterpilot (906386) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477517)

AutoCad (AutoKut in Dutch) is NOT the #1 CAD program because it's so good. It was simply the first cheap CAD-program that ran on dos/windows. So it is used in many, many companies while gaining a reputation in designing lock-in formats. Everybody uses it, because everybody uses it. Autodesk is just like M$; crappy software and an unhealthy monopoly. Better, unix-based CAD programs have always existed.

Re:AutoCad Substitute? (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477683)

Obviously you are not a professional photographer, or graphic artist. There is absolutely no substitute for Photoshop. If you think Gimp is a substitute you dont use or know photoshop at the pro level.

Gimp has a long ways to go.

Linux users missed a chance... (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477079)

Soon after, Microsoft sent other businesses in the region around Ball's a flyer offering discounts on software licenses, along with a reminder not to wind up like Ernie Ball.
Linux users could have sent flyers around the region, along with a reminder not to wind up like Ernie Ball. I bet the uptake would have been surprising.

Re:Linux users missed a chance... (2, Informative)

earthforce_1 (454968) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477583)

Maybe they would want to end up like him.

I read an interview with Ernie Ball after the raid. He DID switch to Red Hat Linux, and by his estimate saves $100K per year. He thanked microsoft for the money he is now saving.

Think about Vista and its slow take up (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477125)

Can we be honest here, how many of us, even the linux users, try out MS latest OS just to see the new shiny? I am guilty of it but not with Vista. Why? I found no reliable way to pirate it. I am NOT going to pay for it. I don't 'want' it, I just want to see it.

Why should MS care? Because I am also that guy who knows computers and fixes things.

I fix XP, I told people to move to XP and other upgrades before simply because I was tired of dealing with ancient versions of windows that were even harder to maintain then recent releases.

The same ain't happening with Vista because I don't have any experience with it. ALl those 'regular' people who complain about Vista being too different, are they not REALLY complaining that the tech guy they know doesn't know how to fix it because they are still on XP?

All the techies I know stayed on XP, partly because they don't like Vista, but mostly because they build their own machines and so don't get their hands on a "free" Vista key with their new machines. Also many of them would sooner die then run a Vista Crippled Edition. Faced with the dilema of having to lay down enough money to buy a top of the line CPU or stay with XP, I stayed with XP.

This has removed from my circle of friends a lot of free tech support.

The UAC thingy (Cancel/Allow) sounds not that dis-similar to other Windows crap that everyone had disabled by their tech friend in previous windows releases, except this time, some of us techies just don't know how to do it because we haven't done it ourselves.

How many of you would have Vista installed IF it could be pirated easily? From my own small sampling I think MS has damaged its own locomotion appendage. How serious, that I don't know but it is something to consider.

Re:Think about Vista and its slow take up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21477183)

re: pirating Vista You're not trying very hard, are you? I had Ultimate downloaded, burned and up/running in about 2 hours. That's about how long the installation lasted on my system. I went back to Windows 2000 by wiping the Vista drive, removing it and reinstalling the original drive with Win2k on it.

Not me. (1)

slashbart (316113) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477327)

Well I don't. I don't care about Windows, and don't need earn money using Windows so I really don't.
I've got my Macs for shiny stuff, and my Linux boxes for programming and looking intelligent, so why should I care about Windows?

Re:Think about Vista and its slow take up (1)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477397)

I fully agree to all the Vista problems you're citing here, except one: Vista is intended to be easily pirated if all you're going to do is take a few quick looks.
Vista is, IIRC, distributed in a one-DVD-fits-all (editions) way; what gets installed is determined by what product key you enter at setup. (Exceptions are two different DVDs for x86/x64 architectures. Not quite sure about volume licensed copies, but I think they ought to use the same DVDs, too.) The available choices include, apart from Home Business to Ultimate, an "unlicensed" 30-day trial with the feature range of an Ultimate edition. 30 days is, of course, not enough to use Vista on a long-term basis, but it surely suffices to take a quick glimpse at what it does, how it does that and how badly it sucks (my personal opinion).

Re:Think about Vista and its slow take up (1)

ricegf (1059658) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477767)

Can we be honest here, how many of us, even the linux users, try out MS latest OS just to see the new shiny?

Sure, I tried Vista... at Fry's. I was really disappointed, too. None of the windows burned up when I closed them. Not one.

Perhaps one day Vista will be ready for the desktop, but this is not that day.

Listen 'ere my good man... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21477319)

Harness the power of 10.000 abacusses, try linux.

Doesn't it just figure ... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477443)

that a group such as the BSA would model its own campaign upon an unsuccessful campaign waged by a similar organization? Well, unsuccessful in achieving its stated purpose, but very successful in extorting wads of cash.

old news but still (1)

phrostie (121428) | more than 5 years ago | (#21477781)

on one hand the story of Ernie Ball is old news, on the other it's one that needs to not be forgotten.
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