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Business Software Alliance (BSA)

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) is Microsoft®'s license enforcement and lobbying arm. This organization, which has some significant influence with the U.S. government and European Union, has an office in Washington, D.C. The Business Software Alliance lobbies for legislation which limits the rights of software users, such as the Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act to make file sharing networks illegal even if used to share files whose copyright allows such distribution. The BSA also supports extreme pro-software patent positions.

The BSA's license enforcement tactics include broad threats of lawsuits, public embarrassment before allegations are proven true, huge fines, having offices raided by armed marshals, and educating children that it's wrong to share software even in situations where it's legal. The Business Software Alliance also encourages disgruntled employees to report on their employer. Through public humiliation they use many companies which are not compliant with all software licenses as examples. While they claim to only enforce licenses to increase compliance, they do little to directly educate companies about best practices and assist in compliance. Instead they sue companies for millions of dollars and tell the rest to take heed. There are also allegations of Microsoft salespeople using threats of BSA audits to encourage companies to purchase upgrade licenses to software.

The BSA has made some gross misjudgements, as in one example of notifying a German university of their illegal activities via an automatic e-mail mistakenly generated when the OpenOffice application was detected on their public FTP server. Making accusations of illegal activities should be handled more carefully.

Posted February 28, 2003, on
At a friends business, the BSA asked to search the premise. They told them that they only ran Linux and no, the BSA was not allowed. The FBI came that afternoon with a warrent and took the equipment. All of it. 3 computers, keyboards, monitors, 2 printers, a network switch, cable modem, speakers, CDs, and DVDs (all commercial movies and music). They still have it after nearly a year. They will search it and return it WHEN they feel like it. The FBI has not filed charges. Somebody told me that they can hold it for 5 years. Somehow, i find that hard to believe, but who knows in this day and age. I do know that when they call the FBI, that they say that it will be returned when they are done examining the evidence.
Copyright © 2004-2007 Matthew Schwartz