Software Industry Employs Watchdog Group to Capture Pirates

Article excerpt

Byline: S. A. Mawhorr

The days of pirating aren't over.

It's just that today's pirates don't rove the open seas looking for vulnerable merchant ships.

The modern day pirate just might be your mild mannered boss who drives a minivan to work, coaches a kids' soccer team and cuts corners by copying some software programs instead of buying individual licenses for every work station.

The Business Software Alliance is a nonprofit watchdog group partially funded by the software industry. It confronts companies that don't pay for all of the software in use.

Sometimes the alliance takes offenders to court, but often the companies accused of pirating software agree to pay a settlement to the alliance and buy the total number of licenses they need.

Northbrook-based Donlen Corp. recently paid $75,000 to the alliance and Buffalo Grove-based West Lake Financial Group paid $54,500.

Since the beginning of the year, the alliance has collected $5.8 million from U.S. companies. The money is used to support the alliance's work.

The alliance estimates that 25 percent of software programs in use in the United States last year were pirated. In China, it's estimated that 92 percent of all software programs in use last year were pirated. The loss due to software piracy worldwide was estimated at $10.97 billion in 2001.

Most of the Washington, D.C.-based alliance's investigations begin with a tip from workers who suspect his or her employer is using software without paying. Tips are sent in via a hotline at (888)-nopiracy or on the Web site at www. …