You may not have a missing tooth and a dagger, but I am willing to bet you are a pirate. “Who, me?” – you say. Yes. You. A pirate.
As previously covered in another article Open Source to Beat Global Software Piracy definition of piracy is still vague if you take a variety of laws, countries, and people involved into account.
But let me tell you this: if you have that cool music CD your colleague burned for you, or that nifty program that your cousin’s nephew brought from the previous job and you figured he’d save you money if you let him tinker with your computer… you are in trouble.
What are the penalties for pirating software?
There is plenty of punishment to choose from. Let’s take a closer look at just one of them: What is the penalty for having more software programs loaded onto company computers than the company has licenses? According to the Software & Information Industry Association: “The penalties for under-licensing are the same as those for software piracy. Under federal copyright law, the company may be liable for up to $150,000 for each software program infringed. The law also permits the software publisher to recover court costs and attorneys’ fees it spends to sue the company and to destroy all illegal software found at the companies. In cases of willful piracy, criminal penalties may also be assessed against the company.”
(More of this good stuff can be found on their Software Piracy FAQ page)
Now, imagine you have a small business with let’s say… 20 employees. And you have that “nifty program” from your nephew’s cousin’s sister neighbor’s friend’s kid brother. Your business could not afford $400 per license for that program, so you took a shortcut. Now a disgruntled employee reported you to SIIA… Now do $150,000 x 20 (yes, there is a comma in that number that turns into two commas after multiplying by each offense.)
Bankruptcy and Jail, anyone?
Let’s not forget about your good old name, too. So, what can you do today to protect yourself and your organization? These simple 12 steps will help you on the way to recovery:
- Make sure you acquire your software through an authorized dealer.
- Keep up-to-date records of the software applications you have.
- Keep all the information carriers – CDs, DVDs, flash drives, USBs, books, and documentation that came with your software, in a well-organized, safe place.
- Check to make sure they are all there on a regular basis. It is nice to trust your employees, service staff, and visitors, but it is better to be paranoid than fined.
- Designate an Anti-Piracy Compliance Officer within your organization. If you can’t find one, be one.
- Do not use software for purposes that are outside of its Usage/License agreement. That includes copying (even within the same organization) and exploiting software beyond the expiration date if such date is included in the agreement. (Relax, using CDs as coasters don’t count).
- Clearly communicate with your employees about not installing unauthorized copies of software and/or using any of the company’s software outside of your organization. It applies to you, too.
- Communicate your no-piracy policies on a regular, scheduled basis.
- Communicate your policies to all new hires.
- Enforce policies that will protect your company against piracy.
- If the software you seek is out of your budget, consider an alternative by researching open-source, freely distributed solutions.
- And, the most crucial thing – consult with your trusted IT adviser, an authorized VAR company; or your IT support representative.