back to article Glaswegian piracy drive yields just 41 'possible' offenders

The BSA claims its month-long campaign to clamp down on software piracy in Glasgow is a “major success” – despite uncovering just 41 potential pirates after haranguing thousands of businesses by letter. The Business Software Alliance (BSA) wrote to 8,000 firms in November last year in which it urged bosses in the Scottish city …


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  1. Nomen Publicus

    Pretending to be a bike company?

    As the BSA has no legal standing, I'm amazed they got even one response.

    Surely people cannot be daft enough to correspond with an organisation whose only reason for existing is to harass, without evidence, companies that _might_ be using software from a very select group of organisations.

  2. Paul Smith
    Paris Hilton

    Assumption of guilt.

    “The BSA’s legal team will be looking into each case, and, if piracy is suspected, the businesses will have to provide evidence that they are operating legally. If they are not, further moves will be taken which could result in legal action.”

    Since when did the BSA get the right to change the law? If the BSA has clear evidence of criminal breach, they can hand it over to the crown prosocution service who will consider taking action (but are not obliged to). If the evidence points to breach of civil law, to the detriment of BSA, they have the right to bring civil proceedings, but the onus will be on them to prove their case and failure to do so will entitled the other party to claim costs.

    The alternative is that if I think the BSA may have an unauthorised copy of a script I wrote twenty years ago. I am going to give them thirty days to prove that is not the case or they must give me a million pounds.

    (Paris for obvious reasons)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "if piracy is suspected, the businesses will have to provide evidence that they are operating legally."

    Really? No evidence required? court case? that sort of thing?

  4. Billy

    Lawyers 'R' us

    "......if piracy is suspected, the businesses will have to provide evidence that they are operating legally."

    Where did these people get their Law Qualifications, the Tallahassee Corresponance School of Nearly Education!? Perhaps someone needs to remind them that in the UK, NOBODY is required to prove their innocence. It is up to others to prove their guilt.

    P.S. Nothing against Tallahassee. I've never been there but I'm sure it's a lovely place.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not a lawyer, but...

    "[...]if piracy is suspected, the businesses will have to provide evidence that they are operating legally."

    ...sound rather American to me. Surely the BSA must provide evidence that the company is operating illegally?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Lemme see..

    Do I have this correct...

    The BSA sends out unsolicited letters to arbitrary companies, essentially threatening them that they will pursue them if they don't reply and confirm their innocence?

    So no evidence, no clues as to guilt or no, just go straight in with the Threat.

    I can see that working in, er, no, actually, I can't.


  7. Trevor Watt

    Burden of Proof

    As usual the people doing the threatning have decided to pass the burden of proof onto the accused:

    “The BSA’s legal team will be looking into each case, and, if piracy is suspected, the businesses will have to provide evidence that they are operating legally. If they are not, further moves will be taken which could result in legal action.”

  8. Geoff Mackenzie

    Ooh, send *me* one of those letters. *Please*!

    It'll be just like the ones I get from TV Licensing...

  9. Sordid Details

    That's nice

    "...The campaign was all about getting to know the SMB community in Glasgow better..."

    And I'm sure that's a relationship they will come to treasure in the years ahead. We're already compiling our 2008 Christmas card list and I'll be sure to include Julie Strawson. In fact, Julie, if you're reading this, let's do lunch. Your place or mine?

  10. The Mole


    Haven't you heard billy, having to prove your innocence is all the rage now.

    Suspected terrorist? We'll arrest you, sentence you to curfew and monitor you without showing you the evidence that we have?

    Been asked to decrypt the data on your hard drive? You have to prove that you aren't able to that you have forgotten the password, otherwise it will be prison and/or fine.

    In the case here it is fairly reasonable if the BSA have proof you are using some software and the manufacturor has no record of seeling it to you or you registering it.

  11. James Pickett


    Must be short for something pithy, such as BullShit Always. Better suggestions welcome.

    It always amuses me to see them tie themselves in knots when campaigning. They remind me of the speed camera partnerships who, of course, have to sound pleased when people slow down, but really want to carry on nabbing them, because their existence depends on it.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Everyone talking about not having to prove innocence in UK law. That would be criminal law, not civil law. Any prosecutions would be brought in civil courts, which is probably better all round because it's not always possible to lay your hands on your licences (all of them at least) and it's a balance of probability thing. This way, the BSA members won't get a prosecution out of companies who, on balance of probability, have paid up, rather only from companies who have, on balance of probability, ripped off their software.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    I'd just like to chime in to express my strong support for the word "Glaswegian".

  14. SPiT

    No prove innocence but show duty of care

    Contrary to earlier comments there are plenty of English laws that oblige the "accused" to show evidence that they have exercised their duty of care. These laws do have an element of guilty until proven innocent but the word "prove" is inappropriate. The BSA also has considerable legal powers to interfer with businesses if they can show a judge reasonable cause to allow them to do so.

    What this boils down to is that if the BSA can show cause to suspect software piracy they have considerable scope for legally collecting further evidence (go read up on Anton Piller orders and associated more modern substitutes). They can also oblige directors to provide evidence of what steps they have taken to prevent software privacy in their business.

  15. W

    Julie Strawson

    Is this the same Julie Strawson who bangs on about font theft ( in one instance, then has the audacity to come up with (and share at a shocking looking presentation on typefaces?

    And then 'borrow' an Acronym from... well, take your pick from the six others that are sitting above them in the BSA Google stakes.

  16. OSBob


    Exactly as Paul Smith and others have quickly spotting this is just another example of assumption of guilt. It's a shame that we are moving towards this ethos in many areas, and more of a shame that so many people don't see an issue with it.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    What happens if...

    you actually get one of these letters and just choose to file it in the bog behind a glass screen labelled "break glass in case of emergency" ?

    I understand as long as nobody talks to them or "agrees to a meeting" then they can do bugger all ? Or am I missing something.

    I'd love to see them attempt to collect anything in the east end of glasgie...

    Remember Paris...

  18. Christoph

    Legal precedent

    Anyone required by the BSA to prove their innocence should quote them the appropriate legal precedent, that being the case of Arkell v. Pressdram.

  19. Joe Stalin

    Scotland eh?

    Don't they have a legal system based on Roman law there. You know each crime must be charged and tried as a seperate offence, so if you get found with 300 hookie software titles/movies/mp3 each must be tried (and proven) as a seperate offence.

    p.s. 41 suspects, you can get that number any hour on a Saterday at the Barras (Glasgow's famous flea market).

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Assumption of guilt.

    It's not a court ordering evidence of innocence, it's just the BSA saying either show us that you're innocent or we'll _start_ legal proceedings.

    Not law, no legal precedents required, a simple "naff off" or "see you in court then" would suffice.

    A court will want to know the basis of the accusation, if that consists of "company X wouldn't tell us about their software configuration" they'll be shown the door.

  21. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton


    lies , damned lies and statistics !

    As Paris would say "nuts"

  22. RW
    Paris Hilton


    Billy: "Nothing against Tallahassee. I've never been there but I'm sure it's a lovely place."

    No, it isn't. I spent 6 weeks there in the summer of 1960 and can speak at first hand. In those days, A/C was uncommon, so you just sweltered in the climatic sauna of the Gulf Coast. Musical instruments grew green mold, crotches rotted with alarming speed, and every afternoon at 2 pm the heavens would open and a short downpour would pour down for the next hour, leaving a landscape looking not too different from the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes when it was over.

    However, the local institution of higher education, Florida State University, didn't seem to be especially behind the eight ball, and may very well have a half-decent law school.

    IT angle to placate the moderator: FSU is where I first learned to program a computer, an IBM 650 with (whee!) 2000 biquinary words of memory on a magnetic drum. Or was it 1000 words???? The memory, she dims.

    Hot stuff, in more sense than one.

    Paris, because she's hot stuff too.

  23. Pete James

    All quiet aboard The Black Pig.........

    The companies contacted are not under any legal requirement to communicate with this bunch of oxygen thieves. Just why do these idiots think they have some sort of quasi-policing status? Surely the BSA could be investigated for unsolcited harrassment? It's about time someone took them to task.

    BSA. Dyslexic for SCO.

  24. Morely Dotes

    The proper response

    In the event you get a letter form the BSA, the proper response is to replay (via certified mail, return receipt required) to the effect that "All employees and/or agents of the Business Software Alliance (also including anyone currently or previously employed by this firm but reporting to the BSA, either openly or surreptitiously), their family members, heirs, and assigns, are permanently banned from our premises, with immediate effect, in perpetuity. Our premises include but are not limited to the physical plant(s), Internet Web sites and other network servers, desktop and laptop computers, and any electronic correspondence and traffic sent from or destined for computers operated by or on behalf of our business. In the event you beleive our licensing to be inadequate, you are invited to pursue that belief through proper law enforcement channels We reserve the right to forcibly eject any BSA agents from our premises and invoice the BSA for the costs involved is so doing."

    This is most effective if one's licensing is in order. And using free open-source software is recommended to avoid having to deal with odious licensing arrangements, of course.

  25. Mark
    Dead Vulture


    Civil law requires proving damge though. And you don't get police to help you.

    Please remember too that the BSA do not consider the certificate of authority proof. You need a receipt signed by you or the company. So if you bought another company, the licenses are not yours because they were paid by someone else.

    And they'll go back to year dot (if you've upgraded rather than bought new, if you can't show the ORIGINAL receipts AND all the receipts for the upgrades, that machine is illegal too).

    Which is nice.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Of course

    the only companies targetted were SMBs and not companies that have legal departments.

    This action is nothing other than (a poor excuse for) a marketing campaign of the BSA and should be treated with the derision it deserves.

    (Joke Alert because this action is)

  27. Gary

    Not on this map!"

    You would not be impressed where your company's name is in this part of the world, Julie! Lets just say its written on soft paper and gets a trifle "flushed!" (Couldnt happen to better people!!!)

  28. Greg Bromage
    Paris Hilton

    My maths must be getting rusty....

    .... because over on the BSA said that 27% of the software in use was pirated.

    But 41 divided by 8000 is 0.51% on my calculator.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Re: My maths must be getting rusty....

    Let me guess... Your calculator actually is M$Excel, isn't it?

  30. david

    "Innocent until proved guilty"

    Anyone who believes that is either a lawyer or has never been in court. It is actually a technical description, not a plain english description: it doesn't mean what it sounds like at all.

  31. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    We had one of those at work a few years ago ...

    On the instructions of the boss I simply ignored their "fill this in and incriminate yourself" form and replied with a letter to the effect that : "We take licencing seriously and have measured in place to ensure that all software used is correctly licenced"

    Had we heard from them again, I think we would have been tempted to respond with an invoice for our time !

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