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
"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
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
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,"'
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. …