How businesses can avoid software piracy: BSA

Software piracy can be avoided with appropriate software asset management (SAM) procedures in place, according to the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

BSA co-chair, Clayton Noble, told Computerworld Australia that all businesses and government departments which use software need to implement a “thorough” SAM plan.

“Software asset management involves a few basic processes and policies that when implemented, will make sure that the business will always stay on top of what software assets are purchased, know what it owns, and know what’s deployed and keep them in line,” he said.

Without a SAM procedure in place, Noble said most businesses not only open themselves up to software piracy, but also lose control of their assets.

“Often [organisations] find that they have all these licenses that are sitting on the shelf that they didn’t even know they had and so without proper processes, they can end up buying software that they don’t need,” he said.

“Good software asset management allows you to get the most out of your software assets efficiently and also ensures that you maintain current licences so that you’re always up-to-date with your deployment.”

However, Noble noted some obstacles in implementing a SAM plan, including upper management who try to “get away with” piracy. Noble attributes cost to be the biggest deterrence of management putting a SAM strategy in place.

“Quite a few of our cases are based on people who are former employees of the company…because they’ve been pushed back from top management who said, ‘We’re not going to pay for software’, and sometimes we get people coming to us with reports of piracy because they’ve tried to get the business legal and top management just refused,” he said.

“Often the businesses we see that end up in trouble…have problems in management, in that they don’t even know what they’ve purchased, what assets they hold in terms of software license assets, and they don’t know what’s happening on their computer networks so they just don’t have any control over their assets and often we find that that type of software piracy is a symptom of broader problems in management in that the senior managers are just not taking control and management of the business.”

Software users, Noble said, have an obligation to follow the licensing that comes with the software.

“Because it’s software as a copyrighted material, you can’t just buy one copy and install it as much as you want. Each software copy comes with a license, even free software comes has a license and that will have some restrictions about what you can and can’t do with the software and commercial software always comes with restrictions, usually about how many copies you can make or how many people can use it.”

Follow Diana Nguyen on Twitter: @diananguyen9

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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