The software industry’s self-styled police force, the Business Software Alliance (BSA), has said that it recently paid a £10,000 ($15,300) bounty to an employee who informed on his former company’s use of unlicensed software.
According to the BSA, after the individual approached the unnamed media company internally without redress, he tipped off the BSA with evidence incriminating enough to result in damages in excess of £100,000 plus sizable fees to licence the software correctly.
The companies cited as being involved in the case were Microsoft and Adobe.
“I was aware that the BSA offers a financial payment but I never expected this much money,” the Microsoft certified IT Professional and bounty beneficiary was quoted as saying. “This is definitely an extra motivation for other people like me, already frustrated by a management that thinks that they can get more with less.”
In the BSA’s eyes, the informant is really a type of whistleblower, though without more detail it is impossible to verify whether that is an accurate characterisation in this instance. Companies can find themselves in breach of sometimes complex licensing schemes for a variety of reasons, of which deliberate and illegal licence flouting is only one example.
Last week, the BSA revealed that it had reached what are termed ‘settlements’ with 1,000 companies in EMEA, the majority in Europe and the UK.
The new revelation confirms that the organisation gets information on at least some of the companies it pursues using informants.
This is a tactic designed to create fear. Employees with the knowledge of a company’s licensing situation – the IT department workers basically – fall out with employers from time to time and this is another way to get back at them.
To underline this theme, the BSA even cited a recent poll by YouGov that found that 68 percent of employees would be willing to ‘shop’ their employees for breaches of ethics and 16 percent would do so for money.