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BSA Gives Another Grace Period

The Business Software Alliance has granted a 30-day grace period for businesses to rid their systems of illegally installed software.

InformationWeek Staff

January 3, 2002

2 Min Read

For the 11th time since August 2000 , the Business Software Alliance has granted a 30-day grace period for businesses to rid their systems of illegally installed software. The BSA, the software industry's piracy watchdog group, is offering the grace period to about 800,000 businesses in Billings, Mont., Houston, Indianapolis, Nashville, Tenn., Norfolk/Richmond, Va., Orlando, Fla., San Francisco, and Oakland, Calif.

During this period, companies that become compliant with software copyright laws will not be penalized for violations that occurred before Jan 31. BSA sent postcards explaining the program to the affected companies in December and will conduct a "reminder" mailing this month. The BSA is also running radio spots in all of the targeted markets. Bob Kruger, vice president of enforcement for BSA, says that since August 2000 the BSA grace-period Web site, www.bsagrace.com, has received more than 100,000 hits and its hotline has received 50,000 calls.

Kruger says although the grace period doesn't imply pending investigations in the targeted cities, the awareness campaign does increase the number of calls to the group's tip line. "It has been our experience that we do see an increase in our enforcement activities in the covered market," he says. "Sometimes the radio advertising and the mailings generate more reports. We will get an enforcement dividend."

Who does the reporting? "We average six to 12 calls per day, and most of those calls come from former employees, and they are disgruntled," he adds.

While almost every company will at some point face the problem of an employee installing unlicensed software, Kruger says there are plenty of cases of blatant violations. "We often see companies severely under licensed and it's either a deliberate decision or total reckless disregard for how the software is being managed," he says.

Companies that wish to determine the status of their software licenses can download a copy of the BSA Software Audit tool or call the hotline at 877-536-4BSA.

Fines can be stiff--up to $150,000 per copyright infringement.

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