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Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, but you never expect one to look like an accountant. Yet that's just what has happened. One of the UK accountancy community's trade bodies - the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) - has blasted the Business Software Alliance (BSA) for its bully-boy tactics, becoming a champion for many in the UK business world. The BSA is the self-styled anti-piracy policing body for the software industry. It has a reputation for being rather direct in its dealings with companies it suspects are using illegal copies of software. It regularly sends out letters to companies on its mailing list demanding they disclose information about what software they use and asking them if they can prove all their software is legal. The BSA has no legal or official remit to act in such a manner, it claims it is acting in the interests of its members and seeking to uphold the rule of law where software piracy is concerned. The ACCA is not impressed. The association has advised its members to throw letters from the BSA in the bin and has accused the BSA of using subterfuge to invade business privacy, according to a report on TechWeb. ACCA small business committee secretary David Harvey added: "The letter suggests that the BSA has powers it does not. It is bullying and we don't think that is effective." Some letters sent out by the BSA have reportedly demanded a response, saying: "You have seven days to complete and return the enclosed BSA Software Declaration Form." This is part of what the ACCA is calling the BSA's bullying and intimidating behaviour. Among the BSA's members are Microsoft, Adobe, Apple, Corel and Symantec. Last month, the BSA in Uruguay was accused of being in Microsoft's pocket after it dropped a pursuit of the country's national phone company, Antel. According to reports, Antel had been found using pirate copies of Microsoft, Novell and Symantec software. The BSA stopped pursuing Antel for damages when it standardised it operation on legally bought Microsoft software. ®

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