SMB Owners Often Unwittingly Double as Modern Day Software Pirates
Written by Rodger Correa, Business Software Alliance
Organizations of all sizes, industries and locations use technology to manage their day-to-day operations, streamline costs and to stay competitive. While access to technology helps organizations in all facets ranging from communications to HR to sales, an estimated 28 per cent of organizations in Canada don’t actually pay for the software they use. According to a recent Ipsos Public Affairs study commissioned by the Business Software Alliance, these organizations are contributing to a $1.1 billion dollar problem in Canada. The study also suggests these organizations may not be aware that they are doing anything illegal, and they value and respect copyright laws and believe the IP industry ultimately creates jobs and strengthens the economy.
Software piracy is the unauthorized copying or distribution of copyrighted software. Since this is an illegal activity, software piracy can negatively impact a business’ reputation and legitimacy. In addition, pirating software can end up costing companies more than if they purchased legal software in the first place; it can open up doors to viruses and malware which can leave a system and person susceptible to threats such as identity theft and fraud. The use of pirated software can even result in lawsuits against the infringing company, among other serious problems. It’s part of a global phenomenon where up to 42 per cent of software is acquired illegally throughout the world, representing a record commercial value of $59 billion. This year in Canada there have been fines amounting to over $1 million to private companies as a result of under-licensing.
As these numbers tell us, PC users appear to lack a clear understanding of whether common ways of acquiring software, such as buying a single program license for multiple computers or downloading a program from peer-to-peer networks, are likely to be legal or illegal. In Canada, a majority of respondents said that peer-to-peer sites, lending software and purchasing via street markets are illegal, but 59 per cent believe that auction sites provide legal software when in fact they don’t. Also, almost two-thirds of respondents said installing multiple copies at home is legal, which again just isn’t the case. It can all seem confusing and even overwhelming for busy business owners who ultimately feel the strain to be experts at everything: from accounting to human resources to information technology for starters.
But it doesn’t have to be complicated. There are best practices, tips and free resources available to businesses to ensure they use software safely and legally. Some of the most important include:
1. Establish office policies for purchasing software and respecting intellectual property rights.
- Make sure to clearly identify procedures for acquiring needed software as well as the individuals who are responsible for all software installations.
2. Explain to employees the importance of protecting computers from unlicensed software.
- Ensure employees are aware of office policies and offer them opportunities to ask questions.
3. Make use of free software audit tools to help implement safe software practices.
- Assess your business needs and then install audit software on your computers that map back to your own specifications. It’s also recommended that you collect licensing and purchase documents in a safe and easy to access location.
4. Obtain any licenses needed for compliance.
- Once you have assessed your business needs it’s advised that you remove any unneeded software from your computers. Then you can purchase licenses for any necessary but perhaps unlicensed software that might be on your system.
5. Educate yourself with self-learning Software Asset Management programs, such as SAM Advantage, available from the BSA to guard against piracy at www.samadvantage.org
- Your business needs evolve as does your use of software. It’s important to run software audits on a regular basis to ensure you’re keeping up-to-date on all your licenses and that your software is delivering the value you need.
Canadian organizations of all sizes can protect themselves from the legal, financial, and technical consequences of using unlicensed software through a better understanding of their role in the software piracy industry and creating the software management processes necessary to ensure they haven’t unwittingly become a modern-day pirate.
About the author: Rodger Correa is a compliance marketing director for the Business Software Alliance where he is responsible for the development and implementation of strategic and tactical marketing plans to educate and build awareness of intellectual property enforcement. The Business Software Alliance’s goal is to act as a global advocate for the software industry. For additional information, Rodger Correa can be reached at [email protected].
Intelliwave SiteSense boosts APTIM material tracking
“We’ve been engaged with the APTIM team since early 2019 providing SiteSense, our mobile construction SaaS solution, for their maintenance and construction projects, allowing them to track materials and equipment, and manage inventory.
We have been working with the APTIM team to standardize material tracking processes and procedures, ultimately with the goal of reducing the amount of time spent looking for materials. Industry studies show that better management of materials can lead to a 16% increase in craft labour productivity.
Everyone knows construction is one of the oldest industries but it’s one of the least tech driven comparatively. About 95% of Engineering and Construction data captured goes unused, 13% of working hours are spent looking for data and around 30% of companies have applications that don’t integrate.
With APTIM, we’re looking at early risk detection, through predictive analysis and forecasting of material constraints, integrating with the ecosystem of software platforms and reporting on real-time data with a ‘field-first’ focus – through initiatives like the Digital Foreman. The APTIM team has seen great wins in the field, utilising bar-code technology, to check in thousands of material items quickly compared to manual methods.
There are three key areas when it comes to successful Materials Management in the software sector – culture, technology, and vendor engagement.
Given the state of world affairs, access to data needs to be off site via the cloud to support remote working conditions, providing a ‘single source of truth’ accessed by many parties; the tech sector is always growing, so companies need faster and more reliable access to this cloud data; digital supply chain initiatives engage vendors a lot earlier in the process to drive collaboration and to engage with their clients, which gives more assurance as there is more emphasis on automating data capture.
It’s been a challenging period with the pandemic, particularly for the supply chain. Look what happened in the Suez Canal – things can suddenly impact material costs and availability, and you really have to be more efficient to survive and succeed. Virtual system access can solve some issues and you need to look at data access in a wider net.
Solving problems comes down to better visibility, and proactively solving issues with vendors and enabling construction teams to execute their work. The biggest cause of delays is not being able to provide teams with what they need.
On average 2% of materials are lost or re-ordered, which only factors in the material cost, what is not captured is the duplicated effort of procurement, vendor and shipping costs, all of which have an environmental impact.
As things start to stabilise, APTIM continues to utilize SiteSense to boost efficiencies and solve productivity issues proactively. Integrating with 3D/4D modelling is just the precipice of what we can do. Access to data can help you firm up bids to win work, to make better cost estimates, and AI and ML are the next phase, providing an eco-system of tools.
A key focus for Intelliwave and APTIM is to increase the availability of data, whether it’s creating a data warehouse for visualisations or increasing integrations to provide additional value. We want to move to a more of an enterprise usage phase – up to now it’s been project based – so more people can access data in real time.