You\u2019d better not steal, you\u2019d better go buy, you\u2019d better not copy, I\u2019m telling you why \u2013 BSA is coming to town.That\u2019s BSA as in Business Software Alliance , the international organization dedicated to ending software piracy.\u00a0 Its members are primarily commercial software companies that collectively lose an estimated $13 billion of revenue each year due to the illegal distribution and use of software.\u00a0 The vast majority of those losses\u00a0are due to companies or people installing software programs onto more computers than they have the legal right to as authorized by the software license agreement.\u00a0Losses also stem from:*\u00a0Users taking advantage of upgrade offers without having a legal copy of the version to be upgraded.*\u00a0Users acquiring academic or other restricted or non-retail software without a license for commercial use.*\u00a0Pirate Web sites that make software available for free download or in exchange for uploaded programs.*\u00a0Internet auction sites that offer counterfeit, out-of-channel, infringing copyright software.*\u00a0Peer-to-peer networks that enable unauthorized transfer of copyrighted programs.*\u00a0Hardware sellers who pre-install software without the legal right to do so.*\u00a0The illegal duplication and sale of copyrighted material with the intent of directly imitating the copyrighted product.Over the years, BSA has run various campaigns to encourage companies to \u201cget legal.\u201d\u00a0 BSA has offered amnesty programs, whereby offenders could avoid prosecution if they agree to purchase legal software and destroy the pirated versions.\u00a0 BSA has tried the \u201crisk avoidance\u201d approach, telling companies that pirated software could be dangerous and that only legal software can help protect their information assets.\u00a0 The latest campaign, however, seems to have taken on a darker tone.This morning on drive time radio (in Houston, Texas), I heard a message by BSA in which the organization seems to be appealing to disgruntled employees or ex-employees, encouraging them to turn in their companies for violating software copyright laws.\u00a0The message said that people who turn in suspected wrongdoers may be eligible for a reward if the claim (1) is made by a certain December date, and (2) can be substantiated.\u00a0Wow, what a tactic!\u00a0Offering to pay people to rat out their employer!\u00a0I couldn\u2019t find any such offer on the BSA\u2019s U.S.A. version of its Web site, but the Australia version of the site has this offer (as of December 7, 2005):\u00a0 \u201cSoftware theft is a major problem costing Australia around $220 million each year. Now we're cracking down. There's a $5,000* reward for information that leads to a successful action against a business entity using unauthorised software.\u00a0To report illegal software usage, simply phone the BSAA [Business Software Association of Australia] hotline on 1800 021 143 or complete one of the following forms.\u201d\u00a0 The asterisk, of course, spells out the conditions that apply to this offer.Now, there\u2019s no valid reason for any company to steal the use of software, and I certainly don\u2019t condone it.\u00a0 However, I\u2019m not sure I like the tactic of paying unhappy workers to do the dirty work of turning in violators.\u00a0 There are some workers who would implicate their companies just for the hassle factor, whether or not there is evidence of illegal software.\u00a0 I can attest to this, as a former employee of my own company threatened to submit an accusation to BSA.\u00a0 I guess he felt this was a good way to \u201cget even\u201d for losing his job.\u00a0 You see, when BSA suspects software piracy, it asks the subject company to conduct a voluntary audit, which obviously takes time and money and diverts attention from productive work to busy work\u00a0- even if there is no evidence of wrongdoing, which of course, in our case, there isn\u2019t.I would hope your organization is clean when it comes to software licenses.\u00a0 If you want to be sure by conducting your own audit, BSA offers some resources to help you.\u00a0 It\u2019s best to validate for yourself that everything is legal, because you never know when some ex-employee might be out for revenge and a chance for big reward money.