In April 2009, the Business Software Alliance (BSA) launched the “Faces of Internet Piracy,” featuring four individuals that through the click of a mouse drastically altered their lives forever. What seemed like a victimless act turned into a life-changing experience for Danny, Tommy, Diane, and William. These individuals turned from businessman, track star, grandmother, and software programmer to criminals. How? They got caught offering illegal software over the Internet through for-profit Web sites, auction sites, and private servers. They are now paying for their actions with jail time, community service, and financial settlements.
After having presented the story of the software pirates, BSA now wants to tell the story of the “good guys” of software piracy.
These good guys include Andrea Sharrin, Deputy Chief of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section at the Department of Justice; Jeff Ray, Chief Executive Officer for SolidWorks; and Jason Calhoun, Enforcement Manager for Rosetta Stone. Their stories will help to provide an in-depth look at what law enforcement officials are doing to crack down on software pirates, as well as how piracy adversely affects those in the software industry and beyond. These new perspectives will also help offer a more rounded picture of the issue of software piracy.
The Internet is plagued with software pirates who await the opportunity to offer illegal software to online consumers. Some vendors sell illicit products via auction sites and Web sites; others offer free software for download on private servers. Regardless, these individuals knowingly break the law and are under the misguided assumption that they will not get caught.
Unfortunately for them, the anonymity of the Internet is no longer a safe haven for individuals peddling their illegal wares. The BSA, working with the FBI and local law enforcement agencies, has intensified its efforts to track down and prosecute online software pirates, and their efforts are paying off. Consider this:
In 2009, BSA effected the removal of 36,921 illegal software auctions worldwide, with a total suggested retail price value of $430,694,296. This represented the removal 883,221 of member software products, 20 percent more than the previous year.
In addition, BSA sent over 7.3 million takedown notices worldwide to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) targeting P2P software distribution, a 378 percent increase versus the previous year. It also sent 152,286 takedown notices (up 13 percent over 2008) to nine of the largest BitTorrent indexing sites worldwide.