Monday, November 26, 2007

How the BSA Nets Piracy Suspects

This article from the conputer industry might seem a bit off topic, but it isn't really. Look at the lengths that one business organization is willing to go to to avoid lawsuits over the issue of software copyright infringement.

Cannot the Episcopal Church go to similar lengths in the current dispute over parish property.

How the BSA Nets Piracy Suspects
Nov 25, 1:44 PM (ET)


WASHINGTON (AP) - The Business Software Alliance collects tens of millions of dollars in settlements from companies it accuses of software piracy, but it doesn't have to file lawsuits to do it....

The BSA generally begins investigating businesses after a tip from an employee. Software vendors can also initiate or lend credence to a complaint if they tell the BSA that an organization has, for example, bought suspiciously fewer software licenses than it has employees.

Next, a law firm representing the alliance will send a company a letter informing its management that it is suspected of violating software copyrights, a crime that carries penalties of up to $150,000 per infringed work.

The letters will then state that the BSA is willing to avoid court and settle amicably - if the company audits its computers to see whether they contain unlicensed copies of software made by the group's members.

That turns out to be the key step. Usually, companies go along, and report to the BSA's attorneys what they've found. With that information, the BSA will demand payments, plus penalties and attorneys' fees, for the unlicensed software.

At that point, it's mainly a matter of settling on the amount and negotiating whether BSA can publicize the crackdown in a news release.


[Some attorneys] advise companies to have their lawyers conduct software audits and issue directions on which software licenses they need. Depending on the situation, findings from this kind of audit can be shielded by attorney-client privilege. BSA could still try to file a lawsuit in hopes of proving past infringement, but it is unlikely to go that expensive route, [one attorney] said.

It's not necessarily simple: The BSA in some cases will file complaints under court seal and win a judge's approval to raid companies so it can gather evidence on its own.

The group's enforcement director, Jenny Blank, said her group resorts to raids only when it suspects that a company might try to destroy evidence of its copyright infringement.

Even then, however, the case doesn't end in a courtroom.

"The parties don't litigate," Blank said. "They settle on dollar amounts."

I have excerpted the relevant parts, but you can read the whole story here.

Note the parts I have highlighted in bold. Even with the possibility of recovering hundreds of thousands of dollars in a case that is relatively simple to prove and unlikely to be appealed, the business association would rather settle than taking the "expensive route" of filing lawsuits. And even when they raid a company that is infringing on copyrights, "the parties don't litigate," they "settle on dollar amounts."

Why is it that these companies, who have no biblical injunction to love one another, or to stay out of the secular courts, are behaving better than the Church?

1 comment:

mousestalker said...

Because there is no emotion involved in their work. I'm not saying the BSA is soulless, but they are able to look at each situation objectively as it arises.

They also appear to be less confrontational about it. I think there is a great deal of pride, as well as some of the other seven deadly's, going on in the current church property disputes.