How businesses can avoid software piracy: BSA

Problems in management is main reason why software piracy occurs, according to BSA co-chair

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.”

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More about: BSA, Business Software Alliance, Noble
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Randy Littleson


Diana, I couldn’t agree more that there’s a need for software asset management. While having a SAM procedure in place is essential, it’s not enough. SAM focuses on counting—taking inventory of licenses, tracking who’s using those licenses. It’s certainly beneficial, but it only gets you so far. Companies need to be at an optimized position in which they’re only purchasing what they need and using what they have.

To achieve that optimized state, companies must have the capability to reconcile software contracts and purchase orders with software installations and use. This includes the need to understand and apply license entitlements such as product use rights that are part of the license agreement. For example, use rights may include special rules around upgrade and downgrade rights, virtual environment use, etc. An entitlement based license management methodology is highly complex, requiring automation; its return is exceedingly favorable, however, and allows companies to move beyond pessimistic counting to license optimization. Today, software license optimization provides private organizations a much greater benefit than traditional asset management approaches, as it can reduce license consumption and ensure that the organization is buying the right license types for its usage model. Implementing a software license optimization strategy ensures that organizations buy only what they need, and use what they have – drastically reducing the potential for out-of-compliance use (and resulting audit risks), and over-buying of software

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