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Owl River Company

  Your IP is:

The BSA, software licenses and your business

At first, people get 'that look' when discussing software licensing. You've heard something like this:

 "The software you use is in almost all instances, licensed on a non-exclusive basis to you by the copyright holder, rather than owned by you. " 

At some point in that, their eyes lose focus. ...

We've made a living, in whole or in part, for thirty years developing and supporting software. We simply don't steal other people's work, however much we may disagree with their methods. And, no, we won't install software in violation of licenses of which we are aware. And we check before installing, for reasons made more clear below.

When the person's focus returns to the conversation, we price out a compliance path, and migration to meet business requirements in a fashion which they can afford -- usually Open Source components figure prominently in the mix. Not exclusively -- there is some high quality, niche software out there which is just not sufficiently replicated ... yet.

Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, and various other software development houses have two trade associations -- the Business Software Alliance ("BSA"), and the Software Publishers Association ("SPA"). These organisations function as investigative organizations, similar to ASCAP and BMI in the music industry to verify, and as agents in behalf of their members enforce license compliance. We have neither the desire, nor a reason to take their product without paying for it, and we offer skilled and affordable consulting services so your business doesn't either.

Non-compliance is expensive, and will, can, and has destroyed businesses which have not developed costing models to support the software they feel they have to use to deliver their product or services. See: Ernie Ball Guitars - $90k - San Luis Obispo - local pdf, pg 5 and 6); Mack - $55k - Columbus, OH - local pdf; Broadview Mortgage - $139k - Columbus, OH - local pdf.

And there is the scary stuff which most people certainly prefer to avoid as well. When we wrote this, U.S. federal law, [enforceable by solemn and serious armed representatives of the federal government, who accompany folks from the BSA with a warrant in hand,] states in part as follows:

17 USC 506(a)(1) - Any person who infringes a copyright willfully for
purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain shall be
punished as provided under section 2319 of title 18, United States

17 USC 101 - The term "financial gain" includes receipt, or expectation of
receipt, of anything of value, including the receipt of other copyrighted

18 USC 2319 and 18 USC 3571 - Offenders of section 506(a)(1) of title 17
can be punished by up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for
reproduction or distribution of 1 or more copyrighted works which have
total retail value of more than $2500.

We know, and deal with the Secret Service and FBI representatives of our local offices, incident to protecting our client's interests, and in responding to warrants and official 'process' for matters such as internet-account assisted credit card fraud and child pornography investigations. Nothing can induce us to get on the wrong side of that equation.

Software comes, and software goes; computers age; user expectations and needs never decrease; training and development of new software solutions will never end. With the advent and maturation of the Open Source movement, commercial grade (and in some cases, truly 'best of breed' reference implementations), there is just no general need to continue in a pattern of using unlicensed software; migration away from the 'upgrade treadmill' with the economic and stability costs which that carries, can be replaced in all but the most specialized areas.

Contact us for a proposal.

See also: Position Statements
a bit of humor - "Caught in the Act"
            proprietary formats

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Last modified: Mon, 02 May 2005 16:21:23 -0400