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A Bounty on Pirates

by Paul Creech on Friday, July 18, 2014

Bumping my Hyphy station on Pandora at the bus stop I heard a advertisement for www.nopiracy.org asking me to report businesses that I know use unlicensed business software. “Do the right thing,” the spokeswoman remonstrated, before mentioning a reward may follow from my report.

Who is the target audience?

Likely not high level former employees worried about breaching Confidentiality Agreements with non-disparagement clauses. The ad is most likely to reach low level employees at the most common offenders: small businesses.
Is your IT department a problem solver, who saves you money by buying one license and installing software on multiple computers? How’s your IT compliance? The BSA is trolling for your disgruntled current and former employees.

The website given in the advertisement takes me to reporting.bsa.org. BSA is a software industry lobby group who apparently has subrogation rights to business piracy lawsuits related to its member’s products. BSA members include Adobe, Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Intuit (makers of ubiquitous accounting software Quickbooks) and Oracle.

A reward may be payable only if BSA pursues an investigation and, as a direct result of the information provided by you, receives a monetary settlement from the reported organization. The amount you may receive is based on a sliding scale as outlined in the Terms and Conditions available on the BSA website..

The reported company must settle for at least $15,000 for whistleblowers to be eligible for a discretionary bounty. And while no reward is promised, if they decide to give one it will be capped at five percent of any recovery. If they have to file a lawsuit, then no reward. Being the installer makes you ineligible for the bounty, you must have clean hands.

The BSA promises to keep your name confidential unless required by law, which means that your name will likely be disclosed to the business in response to the first pleadings for disclosures in a lawsuit as a person with knowledge of the facts.

While every firing can make an employer the potential target of all sorts of legal action, a company that systematically installs unlicensed software instead of shelling out the dough and buying a business license exposes itself to lawsuits by the BSA or member company.

Now, back to Mac Dre.

These materials have been prepared for general informational and entertainment purposes only and are not intended as legal advice.

Paul Creech
Paul Creech is an attorney living in Houston, Texas. Paul has baccalaureate degrees in philosophy and political science from Utah State University, and a juris doctorate degree from Houston College of Law. He is a former U.S. Marine. Besides the law, Paul's interests include sports, art, and food.