Software Pirates Beware

Article excerpt

You know those software license agreements that pop up on your

computer screen as you're installing a new program?

Michael Saylor recommends you read them. Carefully.

Not keeping tabs on what sort of programs were installed on its

computer system has cost Saylor's company, Bessent Hammack &

Ruckman, $140,000 and a lot of hard work.

In a settlement with the Business Software Alliance, the

Jacksonville engineering and planning firm also agreed to delete

all illegally copied programs, buy new, licensed copies of the

software it needs and strengthen its oversight of software

management.

"It's sort of an eye-opening experience," said Saylor,

president and chief executive officer of Bessent Hammack.

The Business Software Alliance is a trade group that

investigates copyright violations on behalf of major software

publishers.

The settlement announced yesterday is typical of software

piracy cases, said Bob Kruger, vice president of enforcement for

the Washington-based alliance.

Most software piracy isn't intentional, Kruger said. More

often, companies simply don't keep track of the programs

installed on their computers or read and abide by licensing

agreements.

Kruger commended Bessent Hammack for its cooperation in the

investigation, which was sparked by a call to the software

alliance's anti-piracy hot line.

"As soon as we brought it to the attention of upper-level

management, they said, `Of course we want to work with you,"'

Kruger said.

An internal audit showed several commercial programs published

by Business Software Alliance members were installed on Bessent

Hammack hcomputers in violation of licensing agreements.

Included was a computer-aided design program called

MicroStation, a Bentley Systems product used by engineers and

architects. The program costs about $4,000. Unlicensed word

processing programs and spreadsheet programs also were found.

"This is costing them a heck of a lot more than it would have

had they bought the software licenses legally," Kruger said.

It could have cost more. Criminal penalties for copyright

infringement can amount to $250,000 in fines and prison

sentences of up to five years. …