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BSA’s “attack dog” tactics need a bone

Matt Fisher is business development director at software asset management and license management tools company License Dashboard. As an industry spokesperson Fisher has been critical in the past of the BSA’s (BSA | The Software Alliance) so-called “attack dog” tactics, which it has allegedly employed in its fight to champion the cause of intellectual property enforcement.

mattHe questions the validity of the organisation’s latest figures, which claim that legal software delivers “significantly more economic benefits” than pirated software.

The BSA states that a one percent increase in the use of licensed software would generate an estimated £2 billion in national production, compared to £470 million from a similar increase in pirated software — meaning properly licensed software would deliver £1.6 billion in additional economic value.

“Using properly licensed software reduces risk and creates operating efficiencies that go direct to the bottom line for business,” said Julian Swan, director of compliance marketing, BSA EMEA.

Swan further comments in light of a recent piece of research, “This study confirms that licensed software is not just good for business — it is an important driver of national economic growth. Government, law enforcement and industry should take every opportunity to reap these potential gains by reducing piracy and promoting use of properly licensed software.”

BSA “failing to articulate”

Fisher on the other hand accuses the BSA of missing the target here “yet again”. He says that the organisation is “failing to articulate” a message that will actually cut piracy.

“Haven’t the BSA realised their messaging isn’t resonating yet? Making highfalutin claims as to the economic benefits of non-pirated software will do very little to cut piracy. It is firms, not abstract ‘economies’ that need to be shown the value of software since they’re the ones that actually use it,” said Fisher.

His argument extends to claim that the statistics themselves also warrant some heavy scrutiny.

“I think anyone would question the validity of a claim that licenced software offers more economic value than pirated – and frankly, who cares?  Economists might, but do software managers? Probably not.”

In summary, Fisher claims that this looks like “more of the same” from the BSA. He says that the organisation continues to miss opportunities to strike a chord with its target audience.

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Meanwhile and despite this criticism, Eduardo Rodriguez-Montemayor, senior research fellow at INSEAD eLab has said that previous studies have shown that value-added services delivered with properly licensed software help firms to reduce costs and increase their productivity.

“This report goes one step further to ascertain the impact of software use on national production,” said Rodriguez-Montemayor. “The results make it clear that licensed software is beneficial for business and national economies — and that licensed software has a greater economic impact than pirated software across all countries included in the study. Governments and enterprises wanting to embrace the economic opportunity presented by licensed software use should take action.”

The BSA recommends action in the following areas:

  • Establish strong and modern intellectual property laws that protect software and other copyrighted materials on PCs, mobile devices, and in the cloud.
  • Step up enforcement of intellectual property rights with dedicated resources.
  • Raise public awareness about the risks of software piracy.
  • Lead by example by using only fully licensed software and implementing software asset management programs.
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About Adrian Bridgwater

Adrian Bridgwater is a freelance journalist specialising in cross platform software application development and data analytics as well as all related aspects of software engineering and project management.

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