BSA offers immunity for copyright confessors

The Business Software Alliance is making an offer it hopes companies can't refuse - confess your copyright crimes and we won't prosecute
Written by Will Sturgeon, Contributor

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) is urging any users who believe they may be in breach of software licences or copyright to "throw their hands up" and confess their crimes in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

Speaking on Thursday, Mark Floisand, the UK chair of the BSA and marketing director of Adobe, said anybody who turns themselves in, or even goes to the BSA with concerns they have over the software in use on their network, will protect themselves from further investigations and will receive the full support of the BSA in ensuring they are operating within the law going forward.

Floisand said: "If a company puts its hands up to the BSA and admits there are problems with their licences or with their software then they are effectively protecting themselves from blame and they are protecting themselves from us going after them at a later date. We will do all we can to help them and we will point them in the right direction to ensure they are speaking to people who can help them to properly audit their software and ensure they are legally covered in the future."

This gesture is not a repeat of the official 'Truce' which the BSA has run previously, but a spokeswoman admitted the organisation would consider a repeat of that campaign which she said had been "very successful".

While Floisand admitted that the BSA is aggressively looking to bring software pirates and those buying and using illegal software to justice, he said the BSA would not repeat some of the methods employed by the Recording Industry Association of America, which has made itself universally unpopular during its war on file-sharing.

"We are asked the question: is the BSA about to go after individuals who download an application from Kazaa, in the same way the RIAA has chased users downloading music, and I'd have to say the answer is probably not," he said.

Floisand admitted that the BSA needs to do more to educate business users of where their liability lies for the software they use and who is to blame for illegal software. He agreed with the suggestion that many companies who are innocent of any crime themselves will be loathe to come forward for fear of prosecution and hopes the BSA's statement of immunity will prove a catalyst for a further clampdown on illegal software.

He stressed that often companies will buy software in good faith, but urged these companies to contact the BSA should they ever begin to suspect it could be illegally produced.

The BSA is also keen to communicate the message that in many instances it is in a business's best interest not to use illegal software -- citing figures which state 11 percent of all counterfeit software contains a worm, Trojan or similar malware.

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