Piracy 'Blame Game' Puts Businesses at Risk in South Africa
When asked why their business is using unlicensed software, the number one excuse given by business managers is "it is someone else's fault", the Business Software Alliance (BSA) has revealed earlier this week. IT managers and departments, employees and resellers are those most frequently blamed for businesses breaching software copyright legislation.
The top five excuses for unlicensed software use given by management across EMEA were:
It is someone else's fault and/or responsibility
We expanded quickly, merged with, acquired another company and forgot to purchase more licences. We didn't know anything about it
Licences are too expensive for us to buy.
We were just testing the software and forgot to uninstall it. "It is the legal responsibility of the business owner, CEO or managing director to ensure that the software that is being used on company equipment is licensed and does not contravene copyright law, and business managers need to recognise this," explains Alastair de Wet, the new chairman of the BSA South Africa.
However the BSA does not see software management as a purely legal issue, and encourages businesses to recognise it as a key component in optimising the performance of their IT networks. Software management not only assists businesses in ensuring the software they have is licensed, but also ensures that the maximum business value is extracted from the software assets invested in.
"Software is an important business asset - along with the hardware components, the data they store and the staff that utilise such assets capabilities. IT is a critical business tool and as such ensuring it is being used effectively and efficiently should be a board level issue. No successful business would 'forget' to employ new staff during a period of expansion, so why 'forget' to invest in their software? The tendency to regard anything IT-related as a 'technical' issue rather than a business issue must change if companies want to ensure they are using their software efficiently, effectively and legally."
The risks of ineffective software management can be serious. The BSA has investigated dozens of cases across South Africa already this year, and the financial implications of being caught are increasing. Recently a company had to pay damages of R130 000.00 on top of the cost of acquiring legal software to replace the unlicensed versions in use.
Businesses that do not have a software and license inventory risk spending more than they need to by purchasing more licenses than they actually require, and fail to identify 'rogue' software downloaded from the Internet that may contain viruses or spyware.
To help businesses develop effective software management processes, the BSA has also formed a strategic alliance with Investors in Software, a not-for-profit industry association, which is supporting the ISO international standard for SAM - ISO / IEC 19770-1. The standard gives businesses a road map to assist them in implementing software asset management strategies that deliver long term benefits and assurance to their business.
"Having a software and Internet usage strategy in place is something all businesses should have, but they need to enforce the policies they put in place and to do this successfully it must be viewed as a management issue. A recent study by the BSA revealed that 94% of business managers consider IT to be important to their company's ability to operate successfully, so protecting and managing their IT investments efficiently should be a priority for senior management," de Wet concludes.