BSA reaches $431,336 deal with Canadian companies for software piracy

An organization that calls itself the voice of the commercial software industry has reached a settlement with 12 Canadian companies totaling $431,336 in damages for using unlicensed copies of software.

The settlement results from investigations that are part of a national enforcement effort across Canada by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an organization that represents software companies globally, said Jodie Kelley, vice-president of enforcement and general counsel with BSA.

“One of the things we do is enforce on behalf of our members where we found software piracy,” said Kelley.

The 12 companies are Cantrav Destination Services Ltd., TDS Technologies, Medical Scope Publishing Corp., A.V. Gauge & Fixture Inc., Net Present Services, Freight Logix Inc./Accellos Canada, PCCU Financial, DMCT LLP, VerticalScope Inc., OmegaChem Inc., Ventilabec Inc., Ventilation G.R. Inc.

Located across British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, the individual settlements range from $11,900 to $128,800.

Kelley would not divulge details of the individual cases but did say the reasons these companies were using unlicensed copies of software falls along a wide spectrum.

“Sometimes it is very deliberate, and sometimes companies just grow quickly and aren’t carefully managing their resources,” said Kelley.

A statement from A.V. Gauge, which settled for the largest monetary amount in damages, blamed lack of resources for proper software control as it expanded the business, and mismanagement of licenses on older computers.

“We have since created an IT Department and implemented policies and procedures to control and manage all aspects of our technology department and are fully compliant with all software,” the statement from A.V. Gauge read.

The message here is that damages can result in a significant payout, so companies must ensure they are compliant, said Kelley.

“If they don’t, there can be consequences that can not only be a financial expense, but can impose risk to companies (because) you aren’t getting the regular updates and security the companies needs,” said Kelley.

While Kelley would not say how the BSA came to investigate those 12 companies, she did say that 10 per cent of cases result from BSA’s anti-piracy hotline, 1-888-NO-PIRACY, and the bulk of the remainder are leads from its Web site. The BSA also gets some leads from the member organizations themselves.

Scott Bain, litigation counsel with the Software & Industry Information Association (SIIA), a Washington, D.C.-based trade association for the software and digital content industry, said the settlements announced by BSA “reinforce SIIA’s longstanding message that even in these tough economic times, companies need to devote appropriate attention and resources to software compliance and periodic self-audits.”

Bain said such public settlements play a role in spreading the message about software piracy.

SIIA helps to educate IT professionals on software asset management with monthly courses that cover Canadian and U.S. law, said Bain.

The highest reported software piracy rate for Canada is 32 per cent of software usage, said Kelley.

The public release of the names of the 12 companies formed part of the settlement agreement.

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