Feeds

Anti-piracy czars slammed for bully-boy tactics

Guilty of demanding replies with menaces

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) has been hauled over the coals by UK advertising regulators for intimidating companies indiscriminately. The Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry objected to a mail-shot follow-up letter which warned IT professionals about the costs of software piracy. The complaint, upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), claimed that the letter misleadingly implied that it was official and that recipients were legally obliged to respond. The BSA letter stated: "This is a formal notification that we have not yet received your reply to our recorded letter of November 5...It is important that we receive your information by return, so that we can prevent your company’s details from automatically entering BSA Software Watch – a database of companies that we are concerned may be at risk of software mismanagement. "Penalties for ignoring copyright law are real – as the enclosed press clippings show." Designed to scare It urged companies to return the duplicate software declaration form enclosed in the letter within seven days. Company officers were responsible for ensuring that their staff were abiding by software laws "and face the risk of imprisonment if their company breaks the law", it stated. The ASA said the phrase "formal notification" implied it was an official letter. In addition, it said: "in the absence of evidence that the targeted companies were benefiting from illegal software, the letter did not warrant this tone of fear". The BSA, which has its UK base in Knightsbridge, London, admitted the letter was designed to appeal to fear. This was because it considered software piracy an extremely serious issue, according to this month’s ASA report. The BSA even tried to supply information that showed the economic implications of software piracy and the tone of the letter was not disproportionate to the risk of using illegal software. The Authority was not convinced, and asked the BSA to change the letter. In an interview with The RegisterMike Newton, campaign relations manager at the BSA, maintained the organisation was justified to send out the letters. "This is a major issue. Up to 50 per cent of software in small businesses is illegal, we believe," he said. "This was a pretty upfront campaign. When we send people polite requests they ignore them." Newton said the BSA would not apologise for striking fear into the heart of the IT industry. "We were driving people to take action. It wasn’t fear, it was concern," he said. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Bono apologises for iTunes album dump
Megalomania, generosity and FEAR of irrelevance drove group to Apple deal
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.