Compliance Management, Privacy

BSA ups the ante on software pirates with bigger rewards

The Business Software Alliance, an advocacy group representing major software manufacturers, announced on Monday that it has raised its reward incentive for turning in suspected software pirates — from $200,000 to up to $1 million — from July to October.

The organization also launched a national advertising campaign urging employees to report software piracy suspects. Called "Blow the Whistle," the campaign will include radio and online advertisements in California, Texas, Illinois, New York, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia and Arizona.

The BSA said it has settled with hundreds of companies, recouping $22 million, since launching its rewards program in 2005.

Software companies in the United States suffered $7.3 billion in piracy losses in 2006, according to research from International Data Corps.

The BSA uses a sliding scale to determine the amount of reward money. To collect $1 million, a settlement of $15,000,000 must be reached, or a victimized company must pay that amount in damages.

Jenny Blank, director of enforcement for the BSA, said in a statement that the added incentive should help the organization cull more information on pirates.

"Reporting software piracy is the right thing to do, and BSA is pleased to reward individuals who come forward with credible information," she said. "BSA will diligently continue fighting software piracy, and we hope the rewards incentive goes a long way in helping us."

A BSA representative could not immediately be reached for comment today.

The announcement came a week after the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) announced guilty pleas of two men for selling pirated software purported to be from Rockwell Automation, a global vendor of automation, power, control and information software.

Robert Koster, of Jonesboro, Ark., and Yutaka Yamamoto, of Pico Rivera, Calif., both pleaded guilty to selling counterfeit software worth a combined retail value of almost $6 million, according to the DOJ.

Both defendants face up to five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release. Koster and Yamamoto will be sentenced in November, according to the DOJ.

The BSA announced a similar reward boost last February, when it increased its cash incentive to $200,000 from the $50,000 it had offered since the program’s inception.

Individuals can learn more about the BSA Rewards program by visiting the organization’s website or calling 1-888-NO-PIRACY.

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