Software piracy whistle-blowers get bigger rewards

The BSA trade group ups its reward for information on U.K. companies that are using illegal software.
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor
The Business Software Alliance is doubling the maximum reward it will pay to individuals who report companies that are using pirated software.

The BSA--a trade group supported by Microsoft, Adobe Systems and other major software makers to enforce software licenses and copyrights--announced last Friday that it is raising the ceiling on payments to U.K. whistle-blowers to US$37,000 (20,000 pounds) for reports received during November and December this year. Under the BSA's rules, someone who reports that a company is using illegal software--such as counterfeit or unlicensed programs--will receive a reward of 10 percent of the face value of the software recovered.

Previously, this payment was capped at US$18,500.

The BSA is hoping that this offer of a larger maximum reward will force companies which are using illegal software to address the issue. The company recently commissioned a survey of around 2,000 UK workers which found that 47 percent of those surveyed said they would be bothered if their company was using software it hadn't paid for.

"People are concerned about working in an environment where illegal or counterfeit software is used," said Siobhan Carroll, the BSA's regional manager for Northern Europe, in a statement.

"In order to tackle software piracy head-on and reduce the UK's 29 percent piracy rate, we are doubling the reward, as we think businesses will become more aware of the dangers of non-compliance," Carroll added.

Companies using illegal software run the greatest risk of being reported by current or former members of IT staff, according to the BSA.

Graeme Wearden of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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