More Details on the Rewards Program

By Ericka Chickowski  |  Posted 2008-04-02 Print this article Print

Focused on smaller vendors than the Business Software Alliance, the Software and Information Industry Association goes after companies who don't comply with licensing terms based on information from anonymous 'whistle blowers.'  

In operation since 2003, the SIIA Anti-Piracy Rewards Program offers up rewards to individuals who can give the association actionable information that leads to a negotiated settlement without hitting the courts. Since its inception, the program has given out 71 rewards. The rewards offered vary based on the amount the group procures during settlement, ranging anywhere from between $500 and $1 million, to $100,000, the most ever granted. Last year, the program received 427 reports of alleged piracy and doled out 26 rewards.

The bumper crop of seven rewards last month is normal, says Kupferschmid, who claims that negotiated settlements and the resultant rewards are often bunched around the close of financial quarters. He expects the SIIA will not reward many more in 2008 than it did in 2007.

Critics of the reward program have leveled the same claims against the SIIA as the BSA. They complain that SIIA is bribing corporate denizens for information about piracy, which could potentially enrich individuals in the know who may have actually caused the piracy problem in the first place.

But Kupferschmid says that is not possible under the program’s rules. He explains that the SIIA is careful about vetting each case before pursuing it.

“The reward program is out there to get better information so that we can make a better decision whether to pursue an organization or not,” Kupferschmid said. “Obviously, we don't want to go after people who aren't doing anything wrong, and we don't give the rewards to anyone who is actually responsible for loading or installing the software.

“For example, we had one instance early on in the program where someone reported their employer to us, and we never took the case because we could smell a rat,” he recalls. “We thought the person was setting their company up and, in fact, that ended up being true.”

He says that the SIIA is not meant to be a bullying organization, but rather would prefer to be known as an antipiracy organization that is tough on offenders with ill intent. He points to the SIIA’s educational and certification programs as an example of how the group has worked to act as an ally of corporations rather than an antagonist.

“We're not out to be bad guys,” Kupferschmid said. “It isn’t just enforcement. We do offer a lot of educational materials and educational programs. The best example of that is that we offer a certified software manager program in which we teach IT managers, CFOs, CIOs, you name it, how to be compliant.”

Kupferschmid says that the SIIA takes a much gentler approach on noncompliant companies that can document that they are acting in good faith, rather than blithely ignoring software licensing rules. So companies that have put representatives through SIIA certification courses are much more likely to get a pass than those that aren’t, he says.

“Trust me, we’ve been doing this for a long time, and you can tell the good apples from the bad,” Kupferschmid explains. “You can tell when a company is trying to do the right thing, and you can distinguish those companies from other companies. And it is those companies that are doing the right thing that we use an extremely light touch with.

“If we do get a report of an organization, and we find out that, wait a minute their CFO took the CSM course, we're going to give them a tremendous amount of leeway, because there's a company that s trying to do the right thing and something screwy happened along the way, perhaps,” he says.

*For more information about how to avoid action from an organization like the SIIA, check out the following Baseline stories:

12 Companies Nabbed by the BSA

8 Ways to Avoid a BSA Audit

What to Do When You Receive a BSA Audit Letter


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