Founded in 1988, the Business Software Alliance or BSA was established to combat the growing problem of software piracy. They represent dozens of member software manufacturers, protecting them from copyright infringement.
The companies affiliated with BSA are a long list of key players in the software market, including: Adobe, Apple, Intel and as of November 2012, the world’s third largest software maker, Oracle. BSA is effectively funded by fees from these member companies, in addition to income from successful settlements against software pirates.
When questioned about Oracle’s decision to join BSA, Vice President of Government Affairs Jason Mahler stated:
BSA is dedicated to advancing software industry issues such as intellectual property rights and technology innovation, which are of great importance to Oracle and its customers… we are pleased to join BSA and look forward to collaborating with fellow member companies to protect intellectual property, promote open markets, and foster the growth of cloud computing.
BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman added:
Oracle’s industry view is closely aligned with BSA’s membership on the key issues affecting software. The addition of Oracle’s expertise and thought leadership to our global advocacy programs and initiatives will help us accomplish even more on priority issues.
Clearly Oracle jobs and revenue are at threat from piracy and an alliance with BSA will be of great benefit to both parties.
In addition to fighting piracy, BSA publishes an annual study about copyright infringement, estimating the level of software piracy and associated losses. They estimate that in 2011, 42% of all software used globally was pirated and that this represented a $63.4 billion loss to software companies. This rose from an estimated $58.8 billion of theft in 2010, the increase attributed to IT growth in emerging markets. From survey data they found that 57% of computer users admit to owning at least one pirated software application and that 14% of those surveyed claim they either always or mostly acquired software illegally.
BSA has launched several campaigns aimed at encouraging members of the public to report software theft. For example, their “Play it Cybersafe” campaign was designed to educate children and students of the consequences of software piracy. Another campaign which was considered a little controversial was “Bust your Boss”. Rewards of up to $200,000 were offered to employees who reported current and previous employers for software piracy.
It is interesting that society doesn’t always consider software theft as serious as the theft more tangible goods such as a car or piece of jewelry. However, clearly the losses to software manufacturers are immense and continue to rise. Whatever your opinion on BSA’s approach to software piracy, it is clear they are serious about tackling this issue and helping their members be compensated for what is unquestionably theft.