Enterprise Software

How one IT leader stopped piracy and Napster downloads

TechRepublic member John Edward Jordan runs the IT department for an Ohio-based recording company. Read his views on software piracy and Napster downloads and how he worked to stop both.


As part of a two-person IT department for a Cleveland-based recording label, John Edward Jordan has handled everything from developing policy to implementing EDI. John works for Telarc International Corporation, a small and independent recording company specializing in jazz, blues, and classical releases.

John caught our attention when he responded to a request to share his software usage policy. We were intrigued that a company with only 55 employees—including John and a network administrator—felt the need for a usage policy, so we contacted him to probe a little more.

Ironically, even though recording companies typically understand and respect the significance of intellectual property rights, a few employees still pushed the limits on using unauthorized software and downloads.

In this interview, Jordan discusses how he managed to change attitudes about this practice, effectively stopping software piracy and Napster downloads. He also talks about the role of outsourcing in his company.
Name: John Edward JordanTitle: Information Technology ManagerCompany:Telarc International CorporationYears in IT: Six years, all at TelarcMost interesting job: TelarcCertifications/Education: Bachelor of Arts, Communications, Associate of Applied Business, Programming (RPG Option), Microcomputer Certificate. My technical training and experience includes programming (RPG, COBOL, BASIC, VisualBASIC, C), AS/400, PCs (hardware and software), networking (Novell and NT), EDI, and a host of other things too numerous to mention.Home page on personal browser:Cleveland LiveFavorite TR features:TechProGuild, IT News Digest, Gartner's Tech Perspective, CIO Republic NetNote, and of course, Geek TriviaHobbies: Listening to music, reading, teaching (John teaches Introduction to Programming Logic at Lakeland Community College.)Favorite Geek Sites: TechRepublic, IBM, Microsoft, Notes.net, and Ask Jeeves
TechRepublic: You’re the head of a two-person IT department. What’s that like? What do your duties include, and how do you handle all the work?
John:
I don’t really have a job description, per se. When I was hired, it was as a programmer, but the position title was information systems supervisor.
My job basically is to stay current on various issues, which is something I rely on you guys very heavily for, and to ensure that the projects and problems…that we’re working on are moving ahead and that the priorities are in line with what they need to be.


TechRepublic: I see you have a software use policy. Did you develop that?
John: Yes, we did.


TechRepublic: Why did you feel that was necessary, since Telarc is a pretty small organization?
John:It is a small organization. Part of the culture of our organization is that, up until I got here, there was really no structure as far as what was OK and what was not OK for what you could do with your computer.
We had, I think, one licensed copy of Word for DOS and one licensed copy of Lotus 123 for DOS and everybody was using them. The first order of business was to get legitimate on software licensing.
It wasn’t an easy sell. The one card I played was that here we are a company that sells intellectual property and we battle against pirates in that realm, so we’re being hypocritical in that we are only buying one copy and we are pirating it.
We just put together a statement at first. It wasn’t really a policy. As more people ended up with computers, especially laptops, we were having a lot of conflicts with software that people would just put on their computer. I didn’t have the time to always be reconfiguring everybody’s computer because they were just willy-nilly installing stuff.
As a general rule, we don’t have a lot of policies in this company. It’s a very laid-back company. But it just got to the point where we had to put something in writing. In fact, what we had originally proposed was more specific and heavy-handed. The president of our company, who is a musician, said, “No, we can’t do this, it doesn’t fit in with the culture of the company,” so we adjusted it until he agreed to sign off on it.


TechRepublic:
Did it work?
John: Yes, it did. But before we put out that policy, our financial people had to bite the bullet and get us current on all systems so we really didn’t have as much of an argument against us for this type of behavior.


TechRepublic:
Maybe this is outside your scope, but why is Telarc putting MP3s on their CDs?
John: I talked with our sales and marketing directors about this. Their take on it is they’re using it as a marketing tool. We offer MP3s on select cuts off of select releases on our Web site, and also forthcoming on other CDs, as a way of introducing people to other music that we put out. We were doing a lot of pressing of CDs that had special radio edits or different mixes. The MP3s have been a good way to circumvent having to press separate CDs for that product.


TechRepublic:
What about Napster? Is any of your stuff on there?
John: Oh, yeah. Frighteningly. When we first started hearing about Napster maybe a year and a half ago, our director of sales went onto the Internet and put in a couple of titles to look for, and it was amazing what was out there. And we’re a niche label. It’s not like we’ve got Mariah Carey or anything. These are classical and jazz releases. This is not mainstream.
We’re taking the stance that the recording industry in general is taking. We’re supporting the lawsuits.


TechRepublic:
And yet you’re putting MP3s on the CDs, which in some ways makes their job easier, doesn’t it?
John: It’s not necessarily that we’re against MP3s. What we’re against is that it’s such an encouragement for piracy. The people can encode their own MP3s and put them out there, so they go out and buy a CD and they encode all the tracks into MP3s and have them available through Napster.…When you’re talking about large-scale distribution over the Internet and availability over the Internet, it suddenly isn’t a one-to-one relationship anymore. You’re putting this out and millions of people have access to it, so you’re circumventing licensing and royalties.
When we put out an MP3, we specifically get royalty clearances. That’s part of our agreement with the artist, so it’s not like we can take just any track and put it out there. We have to specifically get license to do that and then pay royalties on it accordingly.


TechRepublic
: Have you found any Napster files on your own network?
John: Yeah, we have, but not recently. Anytime we run across an article regarding a lawsuit on Napster, we send it out. The awareness of what it really is has sunk in. One of the articles that Jeff Davis wrote on piracy had something about walking the walk—don’t just preach it and make copies of software for yourself (it had a very good message)—so we posted that and put a little note that this is basically the same thing as any other intellectual property.


TechRepublic:
What role does outsourcing play in your organization?
John: It varies. Last year we did quite a bit of outsourcing.


TechRepublic:
What sort of things did you outsource?
John: We did the implementation of our firewall for one, but also some EDI consulting and enhancements. We had obviously some Y2K things and some PC upgrades, software upgrades (things that we didn’t either have the time or specific expertise to address). It was kind of a mixed bag.
We had shopped around for about six months to find a single solutions partner to help us with some of these issues and other issues. We picked a consulting company that has offices nationwide. We were very comfortable with them. The expertise seemed to be where we needed it to be. But the results were very, very mixed. In some areas, we were pleased. In other areas, we weren’t. We’ve learned. It’s tough.


TechRepublic:
What do you see as the biggest IT-related issues or challenges for small businesses like Telarc?
John:The biggest challenge is that we do face some of the same situations that large organizations face with regards to security and remote access and having to provide VPN solutions and having to support remote users—the same issues, though obviously not to the scale, but with what I would consider much leaner resources.


TechRepublic:
What certifications are you interested in?
John: I’m looking at some of the e-commerce certifications, but right now it’s very vendor specific. I see the whole business integration as being my focal point coming up, and the EDI is just a portion of that.
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