To pirate, or not to pirate, there lies the question. A recent study conducted by the Canadian Alliance Against Software Theft (CAAST) and the Business Software Alliance, indicates that the issue continues to plague the software industry.

Canada tries to CAAST away piracy

To pirate, or not to pirate, there lies the question. A recent study conducted by the Canadian Alliance Against Software Theft (CAAST) and the Business Software Alliance, indicates that the issue continues to plague the software industry.

During the entire month of April, CAAST held the Truce Campaign across Manitoba and Western Canada, during which time companies were asked to register all their existing software without fear of penalization for software that was not licensed prior to April 1, 2001.

Allan Steel said CAAST spends the bulk on its time on educating people on what licensing agreements really mean. The generally accepted idea that only software manufacturers suffer the repercussions is a myth. “It’s not just the owners of the company (who are affected) but the whole economy, and not only the software publishers.”

Steel, the president of CAAST in Toronto added there’s a growing concern around individuals who believe they are legally buying software that is pre-loaded onto PCs without charge. PCs sold at $2,000 are sometimes loaded with software worth approximately $5,000 to $7,000.

But Steel also targeted larger corporations that need to place the proper methodology in place, to ensure that whatever software is loaded on PCs is done so legally. “It really is the company’s responsibility to know what is being loaded. It’s [the company’s} PCs.”

Bonnie Walker, country manager for Corporate Software Canada in Toronto, said, while large companies are project- and deadline-driven, there has been a significant movement over the past 18 months to two years to improve software licensing. “Positions are being defined to monitor software from a compliance perspective.” Walker added that campaigns such as CAAST and Microsoft’s Truth initiative are crucial in promoting awareness.

According to the study, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland all have piracy rates over 50 per cent, the highest in the country. Meanwhile, Manitoba, Ontario and Alberta were the lowest, all below 40 per cent.

“The way the IT sector is constructed in Alberta, it’s not conducive to software piracy, it’s more conducive to software policing, said Joey Roa, an e-commerce Internet analyst for LightYear Capital in Calgary. He said this is directly related to the oil and gas sector in the province. The production software that is usually installed is done so by a team internally, and Roa said this makes pirating the software more difficult. Also, because it is not consumer-orientated software, it is not pirated as frequently, he said.

Roa believes software piracy will continue to be a problem, but there is a new weapon to fight the problem. “In the realm of the corporate world, (piracy) will start to decline because of the ASP-driven model, (because) with an ASP, it really is more difficult to pirate and copy.”

With changes in copyright laws in both Canada and the U.S. during the past two years, there is a clear message being sent to private individuals, mom-and-pop shops and large corporations on both sides of the boarder. As Steel said, copyright infringement and piracy does not stop at software, but extends to artwork and books as well.

“The Canadian public needs to have a good understanding of what we’re trying to protect, because if they don’t, other people around the world won’t protect them.”

For additional information concerning the study, visit the CAAST Web site at www.caast.org.

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