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7 Canadian firms pay $170,000 to anti-piracy group

A Windsor, Ontario-area car dealership suspects an ex-employee loaded illegal copies of Microsoft Office on to company computers, and then called up the Business Software Alliance to cash in on the incentive they offer. Also, the Alliance continues to use disputed statistics depicting Canada as a piracy haven.

4/29/2010 5:30:00 AM By: Brian Jackson

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) has exacted fines from seven more Canadian businesses, while continuing to refer to questionable statistics measuring piracy.

Companies in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia were fined a total of $172,699 in damages for unlicenced software found on company computers. The companies fined cooperated with BSA lawyers by conducting software audits, and agreeing on a settlement rather than face a potentially costly court battle.

BSA doesn’t have any enforcement attorneys based in Canada. Iva Mills, a senior enforcement attorney based in Washington, D.C. oversaw correspondence with the firms named in the announcement.

“I find the Canadian market is so much more friendly and they’re very ethically moored,” she says. “If they are aware of who the BSA is and what they do, they are generally compliant.”

Major software industry firms including Adobe Corp., Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc. and Hewlett-Packard L.P. are members of the BSA. The organization educates businesses about software piracy, and enforces penalties against those who commit it.

It is most often former employees who tip off BSA about unlicenced software use. Tipsters have their identities protected and can leave information at or by calling 1-888-NO-PIRACY.

Did ex-employee load pirated software?

Vince Lally, president at Lally Sales & Service Ltd. near Windsor, Ont., suspects it was a former employee who reported his car dealership. He settled with BSA in December to pay a $50,000 penalty, the highest of the seven companies listed in the press release.

“My suspicion is it’s the same employee who put [the illegal software] on,” he says. “I was shocked to find out I had illegal software on these computers and we had no use for it.”

Lally’s first response to the BSA was that he didn’t have a software piracy problem. He was unfamiliar with the organization and wary of their request. Later he received a follow up letter that a gold-certified Microsoft Partner would have to conduct the audit at his expense.

“I’ve got nothing to hide, but I’m not willing to pay for the audit,” Lally says, recalling his reaction.

First published April 29, 2010

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