Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Businesses Software The Almighty Buck

Software Piracy At the Workplace? 1006

An anonymous reader writes "What does one do when a good portion of the application software at your workplace is pirated? Bringing this up did not endear me at all to the president of the company. I was given a flat 'We don't pirate software,' and 'We must have paid for it at some point.' Given that I was only able to find one burnt copy of Office Pro with a Google-able CD-Key, and that version of Office is on at least 20 computers, I'm not convinced. Some of the legit software in the company has been installed on more than one computer, such as Adobe Acrobat. Nevertheless I have been called on to install dubious software on multiple occasions. As for shareware, what strategies do you use to convince management to allow the purchase of commonly used utilities? If an installation of WinZip reports thousands of uses, I think the software developer deserves a bit o' coin for it. When I told management that WinZip has a timeout counter that counts off one second per file previously opened, they tried to implement a policy of wait for it, do something else, and come back later, rather than spend the money. Also, some software is free for home and educational use only, like AVG Free. What do you when management ignores this?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Software Piracy At the Workplace?

Comments Filter:
  • Bide your time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dunkirk ( 238653 ) * <david.davidkrider@com> on Friday November 13, 2009 @01:18PM (#30088478) Homepage

    Do what you're told. Look for another job.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Do what you're told. Look for another job.

      Be a good little wage slave and don't get uppity and challenge your masters until you find new masters. Or call the BSA []. Of course if you're going to do that, better not to identify yourself by bringing your concern to management first.

      • Re:Bide your time (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheWanderingHermit ( 513872 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @02:17PM (#30089446)

        Since you're the one that complained, they will naturally suspect you when the BSA or someone else shows up. Wait until someone gets fired or there's a tiff with the boss and an employee or something like that -- in other words, don't file a complaint until someone else there would have a reason to want to nail the boss, then file it so the timing makes it look like that person is complaining, not you.

        • Re:Bide your time (Score:5, Insightful)

          by bakawolf ( 1362361 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @02:27PM (#30089596)
          on the other hand, you've just screwed someone else over, if that tactic works. Do you really want to keep working at a place you have to call the BSA on anyway?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Hognoxious ( 631665 )
            How so? They'll drag back the person who just left and then fire him?
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by whitelabrat ( 469237 )

            That right. I would suggest that you line up another job before you notify BSA. Otherwise I would suggest pushing things like OpenOffice as an alternate to getting legit licensing.

        • Re:Bide your time (Score:4, Insightful)

          by scsirob ( 246572 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @02:54PM (#30090014)
          Before you do, send a polite email message to your boss that you have been looking for the original licenses for the software to complete your audit and cannot seem to find them anywhere. Ask him where they are. Make sure you have "read receipt' on. Print the email as well as the receipt, and if he responds, print that too. Use it to cover your ass when the boss tells the authorities that he had no idea this was going on and wants to pin it on you.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by aztracker1 ( 702135 )

          Most of the software in question has viable alternatives. 1: instead of MS Office, install OOo, unless they pay for more keys. 2: instead of WinZip, 7-zip rules (there's other front ends for 7-zip) and you can make the default format for 7zip .zip instead of .7z ... 3: use PDF Creator or another print to pdf option, keeping originals in an editable document format.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Jeian ( 409916 )

          I don't know what's worse, that someone is suggesting (as part of an ethics discussion, no less) that you effectively frame another employee, or that said suggestion got modded Insightful.

    • Re:Bide your time (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @01:26PM (#30088604)

      Sorry but thats pretty crappy advice. He should be recommending free alternatives, not jumping ship. He should also expect to see some license irregularities time from time, especially in small business. He should bring this up, with the working alternatives. If you quit every job with a challenge then you'll end up no where.

      • Re:Bide your time (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @01:34PM (#30088744) Journal
        Licensing irregularities are one thing(if nothing else, actually keeping track of licences for a nontrivial number of applications across a nontrivial number of clients is not easy unless you have a real system in place). I'd be more concerned about the CEO's "Golly shucks, we couldn't possibly be doing the wrong thing, even though you present compelling evidence from your area of professional experience that we are." attitude. It's even or worse odds that a guy like that will stonewall you relentlessly to save a nickel, then fuck you over to save himself it that ever becomes a problem.
        • Re:Bide your time (Score:5, Interesting)

          by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Friday November 13, 2009 @02:11PM (#30089316) Journal

          The boss may be a sociopath, but even sociopaths can do the right thing if it happens to benefit them the most. Tell the boss that the BSA offers rewards for turning in companies that pirate software. Tell the boss that anyone can turn the company in. Tell him that, if that happens, based on his response to your initial reports and the fact that you are the software guy, you fully expect him to use you as his scapegoat.

          Then tell him you can only see two ways out of this dilemma: one, he does the right thing and gets the licenses. Two, you report the company, collect the reward, and find another job. Tell him you don't want to choose the second option, but if he doesn't do the right thing, it is the only way you can protect yourself. Finally, remind him that option two is by far the more expensive option for the company.

          At this point he will either become furious and fire you on the spot, gaining you some unemployment, or he will fix things. If he's a real sociopath, though, he may just fix things and then fire you anyway. It's probably best to pull this after you have another potential job lined up.

          • Re:Bide your time (Score:5, Insightful)

            by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @02:16PM (#30089424)
            I think they have a word for this... blackmail, isn't it?
          • Re:Bide your time (Score:4, Insightful)

            by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Friday November 13, 2009 @03:29PM (#30090582) Homepage

            At this point he will either become furious and fire you on the spot, gaining you some unemployment, or he will fix things. If he's a real sociopath, though, he may just fix things and then fire you anyway. It's probably best to pull this after you have another potential job lined up.

            Even if he doesn't fire you, he'll probably find ways to punish you and make your life hell. It's probably best to pull this after you have another job lined up and want to quit anyway.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Grishnakh ( 216268 )

            This is pretty close to extortion, but aside from that, it's going to get him fired at an inopportune time.

            The best choice for this guy is to immediately look for a new job. This one is obviously not working out, and it would be idiotic for him to try to continue building his career there. He's probably already on their hit list for bringing this subject up. On the way out, he might as well report their asses to the BSA in exchange for a hefty reward. Normally I don't like the BSA's actions that much, b

      • Re:Bide your time (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday November 13, 2009 @02:15PM (#30089400) Journal

        Wow, nice theory, but I have yet to see that work IRL. Why? Because they already HAVE the software they want, and as far as they are concerned it is FREE. The only way this is ever gonna change at a place like that is if they get bit in the ass by the BSA. Sorry but its true.

        True story-I was working at a decntly sized repair shop, when I saw the very first day that more than half the software they were using was obviously burnt pirated versions. So being a nice guy I went to the owner of the place and told him. You know what I got? "You're the smartest guy I've got, and you got experience with maintaining and setting up servers, right?" /yeahhhh...curious to where this is going/ " So you could set up this server 2003 (shows me a burnt CD of server 2K3 with keygen included written on it) so that any Vista machines we install will validate to our servers and not MSFT's right?"

        Needless to say I quit right then and there. Not a year later I heard they got busted when their "Vista server" got misconfigured and a bunch of folks got the WGA warning and turned them in. What did the owner do? Try to blame it on the lower IT guys doing the work, of course! So if the guy stays there he is royally screwed. With an attitude like what he got from management they don't give a crap if every machine in the place is full of hot software, and when they get busted he and his other IT workers will be setup to be the fall guys. No thanks and if he has a brain and ANY common sense he will GTFO as quickly as he can, and if he wants to CYA he might want to make a call to BSA afterward.

        But pointing out free alternatives won't work with them, because if they have any leanring curve AT ALL, or even cause the tiniest of inconvenience then they don't want it because to them ALL software is "free", and until they get busted they are correct, and when they get busted look for them to blame this guy and any other moron will to work IT for them. I've seen it happen over and over, so I know of which I speak.

    • by RobotRunAmok ( 595286 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @01:33PM (#30088736)

      Don't think that the company president who "didn't know he was using pirated software" won't serve you up as the sacrificial lamb to the Powers That Be in a heartbeat when some disgruntled ex-employee rats to the BSA. At that point, you'll be out of a job the hard way, with the kind of black stain on a record that no young IT guy wants to have.

      • by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @02:28PM (#30089612) Homepage

        Not necessarily.

        If it's within your purview, you can always try ordering licenses for the software in question, or submitting the purchase request through proper channels. When asked why, explain that you cannot find any licensing information, and you're looking to protect the company's interests.

        That said, it's not your job to make policy, nor is it your responsibility to protect the financial interests of the publishers of the software in question.

        So, keep a record of all of your meetings and document all conversations you had with any superiors regarding the situation. Obviously you don't want to include any especially damning details one way or the other -- your goal here is not retribution, it's job and career security. If you said nothing to management about a problem you knew about, then you're at fault. At the same time, you don't want to take the fall if/when someone reports your company. Keeping records will help to defend against either scenario, and improve your job prospects should you be "let go." It's evidence that you were trying to be a team player. CYA -- Cover Your Ass -- but don't rock the boat unless you're prepared for the consequences when everyone ends up in the water (including yourself).

  • by charleste ( 537078 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @01:21PM (#30088518)

    Unfortunately ignorance of the law is no defense. The same is true for not saying anything when you witness a crime being committed. It's called obstruction. So, CYA: leave the company as soon as you can. Assume you WILL be held accountable in the future.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MarkvW ( 1037596 )

      Parent advice is BAD. If no duty is imposed upon an actor, most states do not impose liability for simply knowing of the commission of a crime and remaining silent.

      Don't rely on this email for legal advice. Don't rely on parent's email for legal advice. Don't rely on ANYTHING in slashdot for legal advice.

  • by Art Popp ( 29075 ) * on Friday November 13, 2009 @01:22PM (#30088546)

    I can see two honorable paths here:

            You can find them FOSS substitutes for their existing software.

            You can find another job.

    If you want to be optimistic you can stand your ground with the managers and state: "I will not install software unless I'm certain we have a proper license for it." And see if they show you the door, or attempt to find some kind of compromise. People that take the time to look seriously at Open Office often like what they find. So there is a slim hope, but odds are, these are not the class of people you want to make a career with, and you'll be happier working somewhere that ethical compromises are not a daily expectation.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @01:23PM (#30088558) Journal
    For most purposes, reasonably people look at the available data first and then infer a conclusion. When it comes to "moral" matters, though, you get a certain subset of people who work in the opposite direction.

    Instead of saying "Well, I do seem to be surrounded by CD-R copies of commercial software activated with leaked VLKs, I must be a dirty pirate." they say "I'm obviously a good person, and good people don't do bad things, therefore the things that I have done could not possibly be bad."

    This would be merely harmless idiocy, were it not for the fact that most of those people are completely wrong.
  • by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @01:23PM (#30088564)

    Security essentials is free for business, so replace AVG with that: []

    7Zip is free and OSS. Replace Winzip with that. Heck, XP has its own zip handler installed. A lot of techies assumed that XP needs a zip program because 2000 didnt have one. Get rid of it. []

    PDFCreator is free and OSS. It can make PDFs. Most people just need to make them, not 'edit' them. []

  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scubamage ( 727538 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @01:24PM (#30088574)
    For utilities like winzip, replace them with open source stuff like 7zip. Explain that it's ok to be used for commercial use, and it avoids annoying licensing costs. As for the other stuff, shoot an email to your management about it and print it out. If they refuse to listen, at least you have a hard copy on record showing that you tried to warn them. Then, if anything ever happens legally you've tried to notify them and you can't get canned. If they do, they'll have a hefty wrongful termination lawsuit on their hands. If it really bothers you, find a new job and call the BSA. Tattletale. :-P
  • get another job (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @01:24PM (#30088576) Homepage
    If they're dishonest in one area, well, they're dishonest, period. You'll get dicked over if you stay there. Frankly, I have no qualms about calling the BSA about places like this....
    • interface is shit
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

        I also hate those stupid "choosing an item in the list equals submitting said choice".

        Choosing something in a list is one step, submitting your choice is another.

  • Different Approach (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew ( 866215 ) <enderandrew AT gmail DOT com> on Friday November 13, 2009 @01:25PM (#30088598) Homepage Journal

    Instead of accsing the company of piracy (even if they're guilty), use another approach.

    Say, I'm concerned that renewing future licenses will be very expensive. Say, the 1,000 copies of Winzip at $30 each is $30,000. 7-zip is a free alternative that actually works better, and will save the company $30,000 the new time those licenses need to be renewed. Alnd OpenOffice saves $400 per license over MS Office. OpenOffice comes with free PDF export functionality, which saves the $500 Acrobat license.

    You may get approval to install free, legal alternatives and get rid of the pirated software. Even better, instead of being seen as the problem (the person who has a moral objection to their piracy), you'll be seen as a solution.

  • by asmussen ( 2306 ) <asmussen.cox@net> on Friday November 13, 2009 @01:28PM (#30088632)

    In office environments like this, management's stand is very unlikely to change. Trying to change their minds will be an exercise in futility, so you need to just focus your decision making on whether or not you are willing to stick around and be a part of it, or would rather look for another job.

  • by Statecraftsman ( 718862 ) * on Friday November 13, 2009 @01:29PM (#30088666) Homepage
    I started this post with the idea that I would make a joke similar to what RMS says about piracy requiring guns and ships but when I stopped to think about the words pirate and piracy, it really is odd that they're used when software is executed outside the limits of a license. It's totally reasonable in the face of ridiculous license terms to want to get past all that and just use the software. That's why we've gone from no product keys to product keys to activation and now to automatic auditing like Windows Genuine Advantage. With invasive tools like WGA that can scan your system and send who-knows-what back to the developer even holding your system hostage against bug and security fixes, I'm starting to feel like piracy is closer to what's happening on the developer side of the equation. Just another reason to shift to free(as in freedom) software...
  • by presidenteloco ( 659168 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @01:31PM (#30088710)

    A friend of mine was uncomfortable with using the pirated s/w at her company and so switched her computer and work products
    from (pirated) Office to OpenOffice, (pirated) MatLab to Octave, and VBA to python. She also brought the overall issue up with the CEO, suggesting
    that the company should pay for its payware, or switch to FOSS.

    Needless to say, not long afterwards, she was terminated with some lame excuse but it's clear it was for not being a "team player".

    The 95% of the technology startups in our town are laughingly underfunded
    (e.g. reverse mortgage on CEO's house and small contribution from Aunt Tilly's bakery), so they have no
    money for legit licenses. Unfortunately, the management at many are too stupid to understand that there are perfectly good FOSS
    alternatives for all of it.

  • by ajlisows ( 768780 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @01:31PM (#30088712)

    I am a sysadm/web developer for a smallish manufacturing business. When I got here, there licensing was a complete and utter mess. They had about half the number of Office licenses as needed (And half of those were Home/Student Edition), they had a centralized AV solution that they were still getting updates for but hadn't paid for in three years, and just overall were NOT compliant.

    I brought it to the company president's attention. Buying 40 Office licenses at a time (Probably around $10000 for Small Business) as well as 70-80 AV subscriptions (Maybe another $2000), and various other server and client software (Around $12,000 more) was not something they wanted to do. They did agree to take it slow and get legit over a period of time. During that period, I did install Office on more machines but they bought the licenses over a period of 18 months. In the end, I am happy to say we are nearly 100% compliant.

    So I guess instead of going to him with a HUGE bill, maybe write up a plan to go legit over the next year or two. They may balk at a one time large sum of money but be willing to pay $1000 here, $2000 there or something. Worked for me. If the company is too cheap to even do that, you probably aren't going to you as an employee and are probably better off starting to look around....

    • by oatworm ( 969674 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @01:56PM (#30089086) Homepage
      Yep - did the same thing at a company I worked for. Similar situation - their former "IT Manager" bought a copy of Office from Best Buy and installed it on all of the computers in the office, then called in to activate whenever it would fail the key check (which was frequently), along with a host of other software. I led with a carrot and a stick - we didn't have to become legit with everything all at once, but if steps weren't taking to become legit, there was "a greater than zero chance" that the BSA would sooner or later come knocking (never mind how they would know to look...). So, since a hardware refresh was coming up, they just bought an initial pack of Office Open Licensing to get started, then purchased an additional one whenever they replaced a PC. After a couple of years, one license at a time, they became compliant and all is good. Best of all, it spread the cost of compliance out so that, instead of shelling out tens of thousand of dollars in Office licensing all at once, they could spread it out over time. As an added bonus, if anybody did ask, they could honestly say they were taking steps to bring themselves into compliance.

      That said, in my case, I had an advantage - the owner of the company didn't realize what the IT Manager was doing and wasn't terribly happy about it when she found out. In the original questioner's case, however, that might not be the case. If you can't find someone higher than you and/or your manager that's willing to support your efforts to bring the company into compliance, either through replacing existing software with legitimately free alternatives or through purchasing licensing (or some combination of the two), follow what everyone else is saying here: Document like mad, update your CV, and call the BSA.
  • by eln ( 21727 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @01:33PM (#30088726)
    Asked [] and answered [].
  • Business is business (Score:3, Informative)

    by kentrel ( 526003 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @01:41PM (#30088846) Journal
    Tell your boss that this is important, and that the company needs to pay for it, and you feel obligated to report it as you will be liable also. Then offer helpful suggestions as to who you can lay off in order to allocate money to pay for the software. Will it be friendly Bob, or the pregnant lady in the accounts department? Alternatively you can just shut your mouth and get another job like everybody else said.
  • by AP31R0N ( 723649 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @01:42PM (#30088850)

    Don't play their game.

    Piracy is ship to ship armed robbery. Unless this company is boarding a ship full of software with cutlasses drawn... it isn't piracy. Calling infringement piracy makes it seem worse than it is and makes light of what is happening off the coast of Africa.

    Cue the descriptivists....

  • Document... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jawn98685 ( 687784 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @01:42PM (#30088860)
    We've been over this ground many times.
    Document (as in "make sure the decision maker is aware of it") the need for an audit of software licenses. If they refuse to permit that, cover your ass as best you can and start looking for another job.
    If they permit the audit, do it. If you come up short in the licenses-to-installed copies ratio, document that. If they refuse to mitigate (buy licenses or delete installations) cover your ass as best you can and look for another job.
    It is your job to make the decision makers aware of the licensing terms, show them how the organization is or is not in compliance with those terms, and to educate them as to the consequences of failing to comply. If you are not allowed, at the very minimum, to do these things, rest assured that it will be you who is blamed when that willful negligence comes back to bite the organization. Cover your ass and get the documentation that shows you at least tried to get them to do the right thing.
  • by James McP ( 3700 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @01:58PM (#30089114)

    The best case scenario is that you can migrate them to free software and be hailed a hero. Don't expect it though. Here are the best of the many ideas I've seen posted to slashdot on this recurring topic.

    1. Consider putting a lawyer on retainer. Not as expensive as you might think and an hour or so's conversation can ensure that you document all the appropriate recommendations to keep you out of the BSA's sights and do so in a legally admissible fashion.

    2. Don't make it look like a crusade so avoid being confrontational. i.e. "We need to find out who uses $software_package so we can put upgrades/support in next year's budget" or "Investigate free-for-commercial-use $kind_of_software to avoid budgeting needs entirely"

    3. Document any time you bring it up with your boss. Use email or written word as much as possible. BCC an external email address and/or take backups of your exchanges home. (again, see #1 for region-specific laws)

    4. Any time you are given a verbal pat on the head, do an email follow up later and if at all possible put the responsibility of license management on them. "I installed Office on the 2 new-hires' PCs. We have $quantity copies of Office installed to date. Let me know when we are getting close to our license limit as I may be able to remove the software from $clueless_user's PC."

    5. List any of your little victories as fiscal savings during reviews or status reports. "Have replaced Adobe Acrobate Suite with $freeware_PDF_exporter, which will lower our licensing overhead by $250/user and allowed for widespread distribution"

    6. Be prepared to be thrown under the bus. Companies willing to operate unethically are, by definition, unethical. Even if you never report them to the BSA, someone else might and you, as the IT guy, may be thrown to the wolves. Having that documentation of all the times that the CFO/CEO was stated to be in charge of license management and that you had no knowledge of the licensing limits, plus the fact they knew how many instances of software will at least ensure you get your unemployment and that the BSA won't come after you.

    7. If you report them to the BSA, make sure to get the bounty and put your lawyer on notice. The BSA has a vested interest in concealing their informants, but stuff can come out and unethical people do unethical things. They often say or do things that are defamatory in the process. Whistleblower laws should ensure you can get compensation for lost wages, compensation for defamation, damage to career, etc.

  • by HikingStick ( 878216 ) <> on Friday November 13, 2009 @02:02PM (#30089154)
    There are already tons of posts saying either "document it" or "find another job". Here's what I recommend.

    1. Take a software inventory. Figure out what is installed where, and which license codes/CD keys are being used.
    2. Pull records. We get a lot of our PCs pre-loaded with MS apps and Acrobat. Those OEM installs stay with the machines, though many places try to move them forward from machine to machine (thus creating the impression that "we must have bought it sometime").
    3. Check online sites, like Microsoft's eOpen site, or contact specific vendors (e.g., call Autodesk or your VAR) and ask them to send you a summary of your current licenses.
    4. Document your level of usage against your level of compliance. Include all costs for becoming compliant. Be sure to include one time costs (e.g., buying additional seats) and any recurring costs (e.g., maintenance, back maintenance, reinstatement fees).
    5. Educate management that software is licensed, not purchased.
    6. Include information regarding the legal liability related to pirated software. Include references to any cases you can find, including actual fines, as well as potential fines (caps). Note the reputational risk to the company as well.
    7. Prepare a plan for bringing the company into compliance. Include possible stop-gap measures and alternatives (e.g., limiting the number of users with a specific pieces of software, buying one additional license per year, using OpenOffice).
    8. Compile everything into a well-documented report/memo (depending on your company's preferred style), and be sure to present it personally (don't just email it off). Offer to meet at another time, if necessary, but you must make it clear how important this is. Offer to meet with the entire management team. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
    9. Let management know you don't plan on blowing the whistle (they'll surely say "nobody knows, so we're fine"), but make them aware that any disgruntled employee could make a call in to the piracy hotline. If you have the intestinal fortitude to do so, you could even make it clear (if it reflects your beliefs) that you value your integrity and that you cannot, in good conscience, help the company steal software/violate contract terms. Of course, that means you need to be ready to put up or shut up.

    All that being well and good, you can take some practical steps to start getting things into compliance going forward:
    • Commit to buying licenses for all new software requests.
    • Keep good inventory records of hardware (and associated OEM software) and software.
    • Start buying machines with appropriate OEM software (if small enough where volume licensing doesn't make sense), and consider buying shrink-wrap software on the same order (this might let the financial eggheads depreciate the entire purchase - IANATA)
    • Adopt free software that is not limited to home/personal/educational use, like Comodo Internet Security and OpenOffice.
    • Pray you don't get audited.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SirWhoopass ( 108232 )
      One of the best responses I've seen, although you probably won't get modded up. The only item I would add is that, in researching, the accounting department is a good place to go. They likely will not have license keys or other details, but are very likely to be able to tell you what was actually purchased, when, and from whom.
  • by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @02:04PM (#30089192) Journal

    Most small businesses have a hard time dealing with software licensing. Any money that they have to spend on software is less money for them to spend on other things like employee salaries, power bills to keep the lights on, toner for the printers, etc. It sounds to me like the OP has already shot himself in the foot by bringing it up to management.

    If pirated software really bothers you then find another job (good luck with that in this market). However ratting your employer out to the BSA is a dickhead move. Whether you like it or not, they are currently paying your salary, and the salary of at least 20 other people. The odds of them getting audited for license compliance are just about zero, unless someone rats them out.

    I'd take a long hard look at the situation. There isn't an easy answer. Either you rat out your employer and impose significant costs and lost productivity on a company in a struggling economy, or you live with being a thief for a while until you can find another job. If I were in that situation, I'd just suck it up and start looking for another job. I wouldn't cry myself to sleep if Microsoft loses out on the licensing revenue for 19 copies of Office. And I certainly wouldn't torpedo a company that is providing employment to my community just so that the BSA and Microsoft can earn a couple thousand dollars.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 )

      However ratting your employer out to the BSA is a dickhead move.

      I see you are from "don't snitch" school of thought. Well, that is a dumbass move. The company would gladly slit his throat and throw him to the BSA if they thought it would protect themselves, and you know it. He owes them nothing.

      Personally, I hope you get to be on the receiving end of the negative side of "don't snitch".

  • by xmt27 ( 903031 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @02:11PM (#30089322)

    A trip down memory lane:

    "Selling games is strictly self-serving also. Apparently, you think its fantastic for companies to be driven by greed, but the customers should be selfless? Same old shit as the banks - capitalise the profit, socialise the loss."
    (damburger 24 Oct Score: 5)

    "In what you gave as an analogy, the hypothetical person STOLE food from the restaurant- the restaurant is out the food and drink the person took by not paying. In the case of infringement, someone merely takes a copy thereof- and nobody's out anything save maybe a cash transaction that might or might not have happened. They're not out their original copy, so it's not theft."
    (Svartalk 24 Oct Score: 5)

    "If I copy something that an artist produced, it doesn't cost that artist either time or effort. The time and effort has already been spent, they have no way of getting it back.
    The only possibility is that they might get payment in compensation for it. As long as anything I do does not affect their chance of getting this compensation, I see no possible way in which it can be immoral. Therefore, as long as I can be sure that I am not going to pay for a copy, I see no way that making my own copy is immoral."
    (julesh 24 Oct Score: 4)

    "Yeah just like getting bit by an ant 'hurts' me, but not really. It's just an ant. Nothing to have a hissy-fit over like IRAA and the BSA seem to be having.
    BSA: 'Oh noes! We've been bit an ant. The end is nigh'
    US: 'Stop being a wuss.'"
    (commodore64_love 12 Oct Score: 4)

    I think what's going on here is most people see business purchases of commercial software as a way to justify their own piracy, like this person:

    "Through college I had the full version of Matlab/Simulink. I used toolboxes that the school didn't have when doing class projects. I learned everything I could about it and the toolboxes available.
    Now, 6 years later, I was able to talk my boss into buying a few extra special toolboxes for the work we do. Something close to $30k a seat a year. Had I never 'pirated' all that software I would have never been able to sell my self to my company, nor sell my company on Matlab toolboxes."
    (0100010001010011 12 Oct Score: 4)

  • Blackmail (Score:3, Funny)

    by Inda ( 580031 ) <> on Friday November 13, 2009 @02:13PM (#30089370) Journal
    Ask for a brown paper bag full of cash in exchange for your silence.
  • Too Late (Score:4, Informative)

    by DeanFox ( 729620 ) * <spam.myname@ g m a> on Friday November 13, 2009 @02:20PM (#30089496)

    It sounds clear they're not going to change business practices. There's always reporting them to the BSE or some other software piracy watchdog then going through a very painful (from what I hear) audit. You've already made known pirated software bothers you and if all of a sudden a watchdog group shows at your door with a warrant or whatever they use... You're screwed as far as continuing with this company. Likely you'll be fired for some unrelated subjective cause.

    You can shut-up and look the other way or you can leave and report them. You cannot force them to change, you cannot report them and stay. Do your own math...

  • by Talonius ( 97106 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @03:04PM (#30090186)

    Begin looking for another job as soon as possible. Document your communications with your manager and attempts to get them to go legit. But leave as soon as possible.

    The reason is simple: a company who believes it is okay to do what they're doing is not going to appreciate what YOU do. Your raises will never be good, the respect you garner from upper level management will be negligible, and you will always be treated as a second class citizen that is there only because the world requires it. The companies that do what you're describing are those who view technology as a "necessary evil" and "money sink" rather than the enabler it should be.

  • by Archfeld ( 6757 ) * <> on Friday November 13, 2009 @03:13PM (#30090344) Journal

    I sent an email to the person who should have been in charge and was greeted in much the same way. We had placed a 'free' evaluation copy of winzip in our corporate image and built it out on literally thousands of machines. after being told to 'shut-up' I covered my a$$ with a dated email and then from the public library dropped the BSA and win-zip/niko-mak BOTH an email detailing the issue. The company settled with both for a LARGE payment and cleaned the desktop image of any 'grey-ware' that was free for NON-COMMERCIAL use. Unless you are in a position to be held responsible I'd recommend just doing NOTHING, safer career wise in the long run...

Where there's a will, there's an Inheritance Tax.