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Old 05-14-2010, 12:16 PM
Screwloose Screwloose is offline
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As long as someone is not asking me to install pirated software then I am not going to be the software industry's enforcement division .... I have enough things to worry about than making sure xyz company has been given their cash.

I do however mention to a customer that any software they want me to install needs to come with proof of license.... the manuals with serial/key, original media etc
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Old 05-22-2012, 06:07 PM
Jerry, the Computer Guy Jerry, the Computer Guy is offline
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I'm going to do my best to stand next to, as opposed to on, a soapbox for this one... (no promises):

Just because we have no "legal obligation" regarding illegal software beyond our decision to install or not install it, letting the law itself be our guide here sets a poor standard for the industry. It's the kind of mentality corporations use to get away with (metaphorical) murder. One of the reasons I have such a loyal client base is because I very specifically refuse to install anything pirated and will not fix problems with software that's illegally used. As a matter of fact, if that software is having or causing problems, I will usually tell them, then uninstall it.

There's two things I think are sorely missing from this discussion:
  1. Social responsibility (letting them know it's illegal, whether you think they know or not, improving or maintaining your business' high ethical standard)
  2. Fiscal responsibility (ignoring the fact that this is an opportunity to SELL SOMETHING and improving your business' bottom-line)

Also, there's two basic types of clients that can drastically alter how the situation is handled:

Businesses: ever hear of the BSA? This is a REAL organization with REAL power to bring the hammer down on businesses found using software illegally. While they have the authority to go after individuals, their primary focus is businesses due to the large number of violations often found at a single company. The fines alone usually far exceed the cost of compliance. Understand, the BSA is not the MPAA or the RIAA. They're not out for blood, they're out for compliance. Just as in the TechRepublic article Alan22 linked, the BSA would MUCH prefer you work with these clients and get them into compliance WITHOUT reporting them. THIS IS A BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY AND CAN POSITION YOU AS A GREAT RESOURCE FOR SAVING THEM FROM LEGAL HEADACHES, OFTEN FAR CHEAPER THAN ANY LAWYER!!!!!!!! (Do the ROI for them on this... suddenly that $300 they didn't want to spend isn't such a big deal!)

Individuals: It's one thing for someone to be downloading a few songs they can't find via iTunes due to international agreements or something (not advocating, just differentiating) and a household with 3 computers set to max out their bandwidth downloading every song, movie, and software title they can get their greedy hands on... (I've come across this and the parents had NO idea, as they'd called me in to fix their "slow" connection.) This is different than a business using "free for home use" software in violation of the EULA as most businesses I see won't use cracked software. Here's how to get through to these people: IT'S A FREAKING SECURITY NIGHTMARE!!! P2P file sharing programs turn your firewall into Swiss cheese. They open you up to all kinds of "fun" things and the very files they're getting may well be infected (which seems to surprise people for some reason). For that reason, while I don't touch the data or downloads themselves, I'll state my reasons and uninstall the LimeWire, Kazaa, BearShare, etc programs they're using. I leave torrent programs alone, but caution them on the content. On top of that, my favorite thing to tell them: there's no such thing as free. You pay for it one way or another. You either pay the publisher for what you want, or you pay me to come disinfect your system. Sometimes they shrug it off, sometimes they really think hard about it. Either way, I did my part.

I've dealt with colleagues in the industry who will install XP Pro using the same license key over and over, calling it in telling MS that it's only installed "on one system" when asked. Back at that time, I didn't know about the BSA or what I could or should do. I no longer associate with such people, but knowing there's techs out there who operate this way just puts my hackles up and puts me on the defensive. People like that make a bad name for us and, in my opinion, makes it our responsibility to take the higher ground. I've never reported anyone to the BSA and have no intention of doing so. I DO, however, plan to make the most of these situations as an opportunity to teach and inform while making a few extra sales.

Not everyone will listen, but the people who won't buy your solutions and continue to pirate aren't worth your time and could potentially harm your business in the long run.

My apologies if this sounds preachy. That's not my intent. It's just a hot-button topic for me. Also, apologies for necro-ing the thread... I do realize how old this is, but it's still relevant.

Last edited by Jerry, the Computer Guy; 05-22-2012 at 06:24 PM.
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Old 05-23-2012, 12:28 AM
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Paul Rodgers Paul Rodgers is offline
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Just remember that software licensing is a nightmare to figure out and keep up on. Let the customer know that you think they may not be in compliance with the licensing and offer to double check for them. If they are not in compliance let them know of the potential legal problems they could face.
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Old 05-23-2012, 02:00 AM
ljtechservices ljtechservices is offline
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I just ran into this yesterday.
Customer needed another license for MS Office home & business 2010.
She asked how much it cost. I gave her the list price.
She said she could buy it from school for $99 or something like that.
I told her that version isn't licensed for commercial use and that it will say so in the title bar every time she uses it. Also that there might be integration issues with her accounting software.
I left it for her to decide. She has the info, it's up to her.

I don't go looking for license compliance issues unless I'm being paid to.
If I'm handed software to install I do so unless it's obviously mis-licensed for a particular use, ie. student software on a business PC, some free utility that I know has commercial restrictions, etc.
Some times I don't know how it's supposed to be licensed. I receive a disk or downloaded link and an email from the customer with the activation codes.
I don't bother with reading through every EULA because I'm not the end user. I think it would be insulting to ask a customer every time I install something "Did you legally purchase this?" It's not what I'm getting paid for.

Sometimes the client doesn't know the pedigree of the software he has. I ran into one case where a client bought a business, ran the software that the business used for a few years and when it came time to upgrade he could not get the upgrade pricing because the software was licensed to the former owner and not the business entity. That whole time he was technically using the software unlicensed even though he had purchased all the assets of the company.

If I run across a pirated version of Windows that won't activate, I inform them that somethings wrong with the activation and I'll need the media and/or license keys. If they cant provide them they have to buy them or take the PC back.

In the situations where I have control of the project or make the decisions about which software to use, you can bet i'm all over the licensing requirements because that is what I'm being paid for at that moment.

It's guess it may be okay to sound like a Dalek and shout "ILLEGAL! ILLEGAL! COMPLIANCE! COMPLIANCE!" but you are going to annoy a customer if you don't work with them.
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Old 05-23-2012, 02:48 AM
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rsarceno rsarceno is offline
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Originally Posted by Arhineus View Post
Hello All,

I have run into a situation where a client is in violation of a software licensing agreement. While I know where I stand ethically, I am wondering if anyone can help me out with where I stand under Canadian law? Am I obliged to report the violation, or is it a grey area?
If your a License Microsoft Re-seller, then your obligated to report it as part of your agreement with Microsoft.
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Old 05-23-2012, 04:10 AM
altrenda altrenda is online now
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I will not install unlicensed software. If I find unlicensed software I will let the owner know the problems it can cause, not the least of which is the BSA bribing their employees to turn them in for a reward.

I don't go looking for licenses. I don't care where customers got their software before I touch a machine. I also don't ask for receipts for the hardware.

When the members of the BSA do things to help me and my business, then I will help them with theirs.
When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
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Old 05-23-2012, 02:29 PM
Jobrien Jobrien is offline
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I'd be willing to be on any small to medium business computer, you'll find some piece of software thats not compliant.

I'd also bet that 9 out of 10 home computers will have something illegal on it.

Personally I don't care unless it hinders my ability to do the job correctly. My line to my customers is, "I don't lose anything you can't get back. If it's hurting your computer it will be removed, if it's not it stays"

If windows it's not legal, I refuse to do any updates at all to the OS. I'll remove startup items and regular stuff, but I tell them it's not legal and tell them there is no service warranty at all.

Then I take their money...
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