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Poll: Would you turn your boss in for software piracy?

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) is offering the increased payouts to London residents as part of its annual "Nail Your Boss" program. Would you turn in your boss?

London residents eager to turn in their bosses for software piracy can earn £20,000 ($32,000 and double the normal amount) until the end of the year. The Business Software Alliance (BSA) is offering the increased payouts as part of its annual "Nail Your Boss" program.

More information on the BSA latest efforts:

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

27 comments
everybodyiswrong
everybodyiswrong

I believe in supporting software companies and inventors such as Thomas Knoll in their endeavors.. They are some of the most diverse group of imaginary thinkers we have today.. the only thing more important than intelligence is creativity. THEY DESERVE TO BE SUPPORTED AND NOT TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF. Look at what they have brought to us and helped make our lives more enjoyable and interesting. If it was not for Thomas Knoll and his team of developers creating Photoshop.. the world would be a much different place.. (Yes you could say some one else would have come up with it.. YES but not for many many years and we'd be way behind where we stand today!) I worked for a woman who BARELY COULD PAY HER BUSINESS EXPENSES BUT SHE PAID FOR PHOTOSHOP. She went out of business. I worked for a company who made millions of dollars in less than a month, over and over.. Who was aware of the software piracy and treated everyone like @#$@ because they *thought* they had all ends covered professionally.

MagicTom
MagicTom

Let me remind you, don't bite the hand that feeds you

MadCityJ
MadCityJ

Since the worker's hand produces the profits the manager feeds upon, it's bad form on the part of the manager to both pirate the software the worker uses and kick the behind of the worker. Those types of managers need a monetary slap upside-the-head, to show to them they are NOT the center of the universe, and the workplace isn't 19th century Victorian England.

jck
jck

Of course, no boss should ever allow pirated software. I'd turn my boss in right now if it paid. I could quit my job and live off the proceeds for months. Current boss doesn't allow pirated software whatsoever in his department, though. He's actually a pretty straight arrow.

.Martin.
.Martin.

depending on the situation, but I would probably first talk to the boss, to see if he knew he was doing wrong.

JamesRL
JamesRL

My company has a very strict internal policy on software licensing. As a software company, we think we have to be scrupulous in our internal licensing and we hope that others will be the same. I would give my boss the same kind of chances we give our customers. We would extend a bit of a grace period to make things right, and if it was ignored, I would take action. But I wouldn't call an outside agency. Given our strict internal policies, I'd be reporting to our internal people on it. I did report an employee to their boss for putting pirated movie copies on an FTP server we use for moving customer data. He'd been warned once, removed it, but caught again. I didn't report until the second incident. He wasn't fired but there is a note in his file. If he had stored a pirated movie on a customers server, he would have been dismissed immediately. James

serloren
serloren

First I'd confront him and attempt to convince him to stop and acquire licenses for the software already used. If he/she refused to do so - yes, I would then turn them in. If he/she is THEE boss, and doing so costs me my job - so be it. If they are lower on the rung, and I turn them in by reporting them to the top boss(es), and they fire me - so be it. If they ignore it, and do nothing - I turn them in to authorities, and begin looking for a new job that day. I will not work for people who I know to have no integrity, ethics or character. My refusal to budge on my values has cost me employment before, and does make it harder to gain employment in some ways. I began working when I was 13 years old, I'm 46 now, after more than 30 years I have no intention of caving in on my values now. I'm not trying to sound flippant or smug, it's just the way it is - it's who I am.

serloren
serloren

I would never turn someone in for a reward, no matter how deserving they may be - I'm just not that mercenary. I also wouldn't do it for revenge, I don't believe in revenge. And when I said I'd turn her/him in, I mean that after confronting them, I'd go up the chain of command. After that, I'd contact the software owner, not the SBA etc. Approx 10 years ago while I worked for a marketing & research company, we got all new systems throughout the company. With 3 offices, this entailed 800+ systems. When they were installed, every single pc had a full version of Microsoft Office on it. I knew that the company had not paid the licensing for two reasons (1) They were cheap, and (2) we had been under cuts for months due to a merger. I asked around about it over the next month or so with other management staff, and got either blank looks or dismissive evasions. IT guys would not even discuss it! I had just about decided to make a call about it, when out of the blue, 3 guys flew in from corporate on a Friday afternoon, and stayed until late Sunday night...removing every single instance of Office from 125 workstations, leaving the app on only mgmnt and supervisor stations. The branch mgr confided to me that Microsoft had found out and dropped the hammer, and this was part of a quick settlement with them. The really lame part of all of this, is that the employees at those 800 workstations were not allowed to run ANY application except for the various phone dialer apps we used - they could in fact be fired on the spot for opening even something so minor as Notepad, so there was no reason for the stuff to ever be on the machines except lazy IT didn't want to make different images for different departments, and management did not care. I left for another job less than a month later.

ibivi
ibivi

Categorically, NO! This sort of thing is fraught with all kinds of dangers and it is not worth it. I once complained about a co-worker and I got all the heat. Don't do it.

Dyalect
Dyalect

Make sure you have something in writing from boss. So the axe doesn't fall into YOUR back. The corporation will take the hit, but make sure you are not left holding the bag.

PoppaTab
PoppaTab

Hello, If a company does not care about compliance; what else does it not care about? Unintentional license abuse is far different from using a program or suite of programs with no intention to pay for licensing or copyright infringement. I have gone as far as performing a back up of questionable software and then removing it from use. It is always best to let responsible parties know about software non-compliance and give them a chance to make it good. Sometimes it is far better to point out software that accomplishes the same goal for less money eg; OpenOffice vs. Microsoft. The small businesses I have interacted with would really stretch their financial goals by paying the exorbitant pricing schedules of say, Microsoft. Large corporations with large budgets have no excuse to violate licensing and copyright agreements. I have actually used the fee schedule of my services if a few visits at no charge would allow a very small business in gaining compliance. On the larger scale: if I found an employee using pirated software or abusing compliance; they would be subject to termination after warning.

1bn0
1bn0

The Monopoly Cops wouldn't exist if there "sponsors" weren't trying to maintain an illegal monopoly. My first definiton of a monopoly is "using illegal marketing and business practices to force customers to pay higher than warranted prices maintain your other wise untenable business ". One of the first rules of business / marketing the consumer learns is the "Law of Supply and Demand". For the consumer , this is usually quoted to justify the unreasonable cost fo the product or service the consumer is looking to purchase as supply is low, demand is high and the consumer will just have to pay what the seller is asking or forgoe the product or service. The BSA sponsors are not happy with the converse to this law. If supply outstrips demand, prices should fall. Especially if there are competing products for the same consumers. THe solution, create a monopoly situation whre you entirly control the supply and can therefore change the demand for the product into a demand to pay the supplier whatever they want since the consumer no longer has any choice. My diatribe aside, I have worked in the past and would continue in the future to move the company to either purchasing legal software for moving to FOSS as an alternative. Ratting out a current empoyer is not going to get you anywhere except out the door and liely will make others hard to open. It's definately a short term gain. Ratting out a previous employer? Just makes me think I am sinking to their level. The instances I have seen of former employees attempting to turn in the employer were only done by employees who should have been let go a long time ago and should have been gratefull they weren't canned before they were. I hope I am better at my job than that and that if I am let go , it is for other reasons.

JackOfAllTech
JackOfAllTech

only if he ignored my previous attempts to convince him he was breaking the law.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I reserve "Piracy" for actual acts of it for example; direct financial gain through copyright infringement or other forms of theft. So, in terms of stolen software, I would speak with my direct report first and work my way up the chain. It would be a discussion about security. We open ourselves up to the three major risks risks; orange jump suite and loose your home and be embarrassed. Legally, we are steeling and this can result in hefty fines and jail time. Business wise, we open ourselves up to having our own information stollen through any software outside legal channels. A frequent attack is to put spy code into an official program then release it through the pirate market. Hopefully the embarrassment point is understood with no further mention of it. No one wants to be the exec who lost the companies competitive data. As in the case of our favorite guitar string company example, even if it was not intentional or entirely proven, the BSA showing up at your door for a license audit is a problem. If the decision people have the information and still choose to keep the unlicensed installs then make sure it's documented and decide if your going to stay with this company/department or not. Being a wistle blower is your own choice and there are descrete ways to do that. I agree with jremmy though; if the motivation for potentially put families out of income by killing a business over your hurt feelings may be the right thing to do but it's a vulgar motivation. I'd respect someone doing it after having gone through the management chain and out of honest intentions though it still does suck for the innocents that may find locked doors in the morning. (edit); spelling and such

dave-richardson
dave-richardson

I have done it once, and another time I could have done it but the company went out of business after they let me go. Also they would not purchase the software when I told them they needed too.

MadCityJ
MadCityJ

About 15 years ago, I was working for a small company who's owner couldn't seem to pay for employee raises or software, but COULD pay to fill her closets with clothes and shoes (the business and house were on the same property, in separate buildings). She had intentionally pirated Macintosh versions of Studio 8, Director, PageMaker, FreeHand, OS 6.4, and others by renting them (you could do this back then) from a place in Texas, and then returning the software AFTER she had us copy all of the disks and manuals. After I left, she didn't want to pay my accrued vacation; it took prodding from my state's Dept. of Industry, Labor and Human Relations to force her to pay up. Once I had cashed the check, I turned them into the Software Publisher's Association (precursor to the BSA). A year later, the company was out of business. Do I regret it? Nope. If your business is dependent on that piece of software, you need to pay for it, plain and simple. If you don't like it, don't go into business. They like to say the toes you step on today might be attached to the butt you kiss tomorrow. I would return the butt you kick today might be attached to the hand that e-mails the BSA tomorrow. Turnabout IS fair play.

jck
jck

Other: Yes, because $32,000 would get me out of debt! :^0

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I read the other day that they're having a double the reward thing right now.

jck
jck

The guy we called "The Anti-Christ". He was running an SQL Server 2000 and Outlook Server 5.5 both unlicensed. He knew work arounds to get them to work before acquiring keys. Funniest thing was, he used to be a big manager at Microsoft. He was ripping off his old friends. Go figure.

Mysticmayhem
Mysticmayhem

Maybe after repeated forewarnings? I mean really now... Who would one turn their boss into? Upper management? ;)

jjcanaday
jjcanaday

My answer would have to Yes, but only after telling him/her I would if it didn't stop.

Jremmy
Jremmy

Yes only if they wronged me that means you are a snake and a coward. There should only be 2 answers Yes and No. If they wronged you, you should of acted like an adult and went to the source and discussed whatever the issue was. Not cry and "Go tell Dad"

techrepublic@
techrepublic@

I'm a person that goes out of my way to be just and treat everyone fairly but if someone **intentionally** wronged me, I would make my mission and pleasure to return the "favor" any way I could. "Go tell Dad" would be the least they would have to worry.

harryolden
harryolden

I also work from home and repair computers, if I went and reported everybody that had illegal software I might as well stay at home and do nothing, you cant kill the goose that feeds you.

pgit
pgit

But I do try to get people to go straight, I don't pirate anything myself (primarily open source user any way) but as you said almost everyone else does to a degree or other. I have been very successful at shaming people into dumping pirated stuff or paying for it legitimately. One solution has been to move the people into Linux. All of the Linux users I've converted love it, have no regrets and even try to get their friends and family to use it. The other successful avenue to getting people on the up-and-up demonstrating just how much Microsoft (an who knows who else) knows about what's on your computer and what you do with it. In the past couple of years I've even had customer's MS office shut down on them, when they tried to update MS caught the duplicate key and somehow hobble it. What ever they did (I didn't physically see any of these boxes) the clients said they couldn't live with it. Some bought office and a few went with openoffice. So I wouldn't blow anyone in to any authorities, I see far too much potential to become the new East Germany in that. But I do 'blow them in' to themselves, point out their error and suggest (rather forcefully) how they can get straight with the world.

Snooki_smoosh_smoosh
Snooki_smoosh_smoosh

Reason being is that a low budget office, might forget to remove something, in part of a replacement use cycle. The BSA seems to be a little to gun ho about wanting to make examples of companies. If the piracy or running outside of compliance happens because the one doing the ordering does it to save money than yeah they should be spanked, but if it is an accidental oversight, then I thing discretion, needs to be used. As it is easy to figure out whether or not an non compliant software piece was actually being used or not. In a large enterprise, you may have an IT Person who's sole duty is to ensure compliance.