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Issue of October 2005 
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Software asset management helps curb pirated software

The use of pirated software can put enterprises in the soup. Tarun Sawney, Director, Anti-Piracy, Asia, Business Software Alliance (BSA), details ways to help enterprises go the legal route. by Anil Patrick R

How many Indian businesses use pirated software?

The software piracy rate in India in 2004 was 74 percent according to the BSA IDC Piracy Study. This is across all the sectors. BSA does not have a breakdown for rate of piracy specifically for businesses.

What are the implications (legal and otherwise) that these businesses face due to the use of pirated software?

Any use of pirated software has legal implications on the offender. Companies can be penalised under the current Indian Copyright Act.

India has had a full-fledged copyright law in the form of the Copyright Act of 1957, which came into effect on June 4, 1957. This Act contains elaborate provisions protecting copyright in computer programs (software). Software is treated as a Literary Work under the said law in India and therefore imitation of software attracts punishment.

Other implications of copied or counterfeited software on businesses are:

  • Greater exposure to software viruses, corrupt disks, or defective software
  • Inadequate or no documentation. No warranties
  • Lack of technical product support available to the licensed users.

If an organisation is already using pirated software, how can it go about rectifying past mistakes?

Any organisation using pirated software must realise the implications that piracy can have on their businesses. In order to deal with the problem they should adopt SAM, details of which can be found on www.bsa.org. Nevertheless, as a first step, all unlicenced software should be deleted.

Can you suggest strategies that businesses can use to stamp out the use of pirated software?

Businesses today need to understand the implications of software piracy and thereby adopt ways to fight it. SAM is one such tool. It enables businesses to identify and root out pirated software, and ensures that they have appropriate licensing levels for their software needs, so that they are in line with the country’s new copyright laws.

What are the benefits of using SAM?

There are various benefits of SAM.

  • It helps cut costs
  • Gives a chance to standardise versions in the company and thus increase productivity and employee collaboration
  • SAM reduces risk of viruses entering the IT network of the company
  • Easier budgeting makes it possible to invest elsewhere
  • Consolidated licenses make it possible to upgrade
  • SAM provides better software support
  • Administration becomes easy.

How can piracy control measures be incorporated into an organisation’s IT policy?

A company should make the use of legal software compulsory. The IT policy of an organisation should be built in a way that benefits the business of the organisation through the correct use of software policies.

Other than that, companies should apply SAM as a tool to enable businesses to identify and root out pirated software, and ensure that they have appropriate licensing levels for their software needs, so that they are in line with the country’s copyright laws.

Building in checks and frequent software audits by qualified IT people can reduce instances of unlicensed software. Employees should not be permitted to load software onto a PC. Only IT staff should have the passwords to load software.

Using a software audit tool can help identify the software loaded on networked PCs pinpointing unauthorised versions.

 
     
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Indian Express - Business Publications Division

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