BSA Sacks Software Pirates

Having proffered carrots, the Business Software Alliance (BSA) has come out swinging sticks today.

The BSA has gone after five software pirates in Europe and the United States that the group says were illegally selling software online. One was operating in the United Kingdom, one in Austria, two in Germany and one in Pennsylvania.

In Germany, the BSA initially brought action against three Web sites accused of offering copies of Adobe (Quote) software; in two of those cases, courts issued preliminary injunctions and allowed BSA representatives to search the site owners' property for evidence of illegal sales.

The BSA also filed a complaint in Austria against a third site operating in Germany but headquartered in Austria.

In the U.K., the defendant is a Web site operator offering copies of AutoDesk (Quote) software, and the U.S. defendant is an online seller in Pennsylvania which was operating 20 Web sites offering copies of Adobe, McAfee (Quote), Microsoft  and Symantec (Quote) software.

All the actions taken by the BSA were civil rather than criminal complaints, but the organization has nonetheless been able to get swift results.

Jenny Blank, director of enforcement at BSA, told that "all the sites have been taken down voluntarily when they saw the jig was up."

The BSA has tried several other tacks to reduce software piracy. One such effort has been to try and educate governments in countries where piracy is rife that they have more to gain from protecting copyrights than from allowing an underground economy to thrive.

Blank said this tack has been going well but "it's a long-term process."

These enforcement actions took place in areas of the world where piracy is considered less damaging to U.S. software vendors than in Asia or Latin America, but Blank said that the BSA will be taking action there too.

Moreover, "losses from piracy in other parts of the world [than Asia and Latin America] are not trivial," she said.

Last week, Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen explained at an American Association of Publishers conference that software vendors lose fully one-third of their revenues to piracy, mostly the peer-to-peer variety.

He predicted that consumer education combined with the use of digital rights management (DRM) technology will prove an effective technique for reducing casual piracy.

"The number one goal is to keep the basically honest person honest, and that means putting DRM or some other technology in the product," he said.

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