Poll: Most businesses concerned about piracy

A new poll found that only a slim majority of businesses say software piracy is an important issue, prompting software vendors to find ways to heighten concern.

In a survey of 776 North American businesses that was released last week by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), 56 percent of respondents said it's important to be informed about piracy. But it ranked fourth on a list of priorities, behind data security, year 2000 work and training employees in new technology.

"We wish we were higher in importance, and when year 2000 is over, we hope to move up to third," said Melinda Brown, vice president and general counsel at Lotus Development Corp., one of 12 BSA members.

In coming months, the Washington-based group is going to focus on getting businesses to comply with software licensing, as well as urge governments to crack down on pirates, Brown said.

Karine Elsen, BSA's marketing director, said that historically it's been tough to get companies and their employees to see that duplicating software without paying for it is a crime.

However, she said, that attitude is changing, and more companies have policies than five years ago. The poll, conducted in the spring, showed that 75 percent of those surveyed had a software-usage policy.

But Dwayne Poeppel, systems manager at general contractor E. Ken Halverson in Redmond, Washington, said he's somewhat unsympathetic to antipiracy efforts because software costs too much and is constantly upgraded.

"It's a hassle dealing with software vendors, and you say, 'The hell with them,' and you get tired of paying for all these updates," Poeppel said. "It's hard to tell my boss I need $US500 for software that one user will use once or twice a year."

But the company is finalising a formal piracy policy, and Poeppel said he works hard to ensure that he has enough authorised licenses.

At Kansas City Life Insurance, policy forbids workers from downloading software, said Robert Easton, senior applications systems manager. "We do our best to control things," he added.

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