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The ever-vigilant Business Software Alliance (BSA) has struck out against immoral college students, saying it's concerned about the lack of respect kiddies have for software.

The software industry trade group commissioned a study that found students are quite willing to pirate software. The collegians' main motivations for obtaining software illegally are to save money and to get back at a "prosperous" industry.

"Only 24 percent of 1,000 college and university students surveyed consider it wrong to make unauthorized copies of software," the BSA said. "Yet, despite their attitudes toward piracy, 93 percent of students surveyed agreed that "people who develop software deserve to be rewarded for their efforts." However, 89 percent said they didn't always pay for the copyrighted software they downloaded."

Free software fans probably make up a small portion of those interviewed, but it should be noted that copyrighted software does not always come with a pricetag.

While the BSA appears shocked by these results, many of you might not be. College students tend to have this nasty habit of cutting costs wherever possible to save up for the finer things in life like keg parties and food. They don't put ethics and the moral high-ground too high on their list of priorities while at school. But the BSA is concerned that this lack of concern for software could stick with them in the long run.

"Intellectual property theft is both wrong and illegal," BSA President Robert Holleyman said. "If schools don't educate their students on this issue, many of these students are likely to take their piracy ethic into the business world."

Armed with that logic, you might expect to see the streets filled with LSD-crazed, binge-drunk adults having open-air orgies. But we all know that this only happens in San Francisco, and that naughty children can turn into fine adults.

The BSA, however, went on to put the screws on the undergraduates. A second study, again commissioned by the BSA, found that more than 105,000 people lost their jobs in 2002 as a result of software piracy. U.S. piracy losses alone approached $2 billion in 2002.

It's unlikely that college students pocketing a copy of Office here and there made a large contribution to this total, but that's not really the point of the BSA's gripes. The heart of the matter goes back to the BSA's concerns of breeding immorality in our children.

The BSA cites Stuart Gilman, President of the Ethics Resource Center.

"We work with a great number of large multinational corporations that are concerned about what students may be walking out with" when they leave the academic world for the world of work, Gilman said. He adds that a student without a firm grounding in ethics is 'a time bomb walking into that organization.'"

One such "time bomb" appears to be nineteen-year-old Colorado College student Kiley Goodson-Dunlap.

"Software is something that's just there," she told the BSA researchers.

A quick background check on Goodson-Dunlap does reveal that she is up to no good. She has been fighting human rights abuses in China as an active member of Amnesty International.

"And if anyone has the duty to confront criminal acts, seeded in prejudice, intolerance, and manifested through reckless and negligent political clout--it is us, here in the United States because of the relative freedoms and comforts we enjoy which should make us sympathetic to those without basic freedoms rather than alienate us," she writes in a plea.

Keep an eye on that one.

The BSA is funded by many of the world's largest software companies, including Microsoft. Earlier this week, the Beast settled six more antitrust class action lawsuits. The company could shell out as much as $1.55 billion to the ten states that have settled so far with consumers receiving vouchers as compensation for paying too much for Microsoft software in the past. ®

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