The Business Software Alliance announced on Monday the launch of its "Blow the Whistle" campaign and said it will offer up to $1 million as a bonus for employees that turn in their employers.
The campaign, which lasts until October 2007, rewards end users that tip off the the software industry's lobbying arm and offer evidence about companies that have installed unlicensed copies of software. Until the end of the campaign, the BSA will pay a bounty to informants based on the settlement with a maximum fee of $1 million, up from the normal top tip for tattlers of $200,000. Under the guidelines of the program, end users cannot have been the ones to install the software unless they were ordered to do so by a supervisor.
"BSA will diligently continue fighting software piracy and we hope the Rewards incentive goes a long way in helping us," Jenny Blank, director of enforcement for the industry group. "Businesses often have a million excuses for having unlicensed software on office computers. BSA is now offering up to a million dollars for employees who turn them in."
Software companies, music firms and Hollywood studios continue to claim that unauthorized use of software is causing the industries large losses. In its announcement, the BSA cited a report from analyst firm International Data Corp. (IDC) that estimates that U.S. software firms suffered $7.3 billion in losses in 2006 because of software piracy.
The other content industries have also continued to pursue online pirates as well as casual-copying consumers. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has kept up a steady stream of lawsuits against U.S. citizens that trade music files online, though consumers and universities are starting to fight back. Some companies, including music giant Sony BMG, have gone so far as to install spyware on users' PC to try to curtail any copying. The federal government has taken an increasingly proactive role in prosecuting online piracy.
To get the maximum bounty, an informant would have to tip off the BSA to rampant piracy that results in a settlement of more than $15 million. However, since the BSA's reward program launched in 2005, the group has only brought in about $22 million in settlements. Symantec, the owner of SecurityFocus, is a member of the BSA.
Posted by: Robert Lemos