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The Business Software Alliance is escalating its software piracy program by offering $1 million for software piracy tips, up from its previous $200,000 reward. The Washington-based alliance, which launched its software piracy information rewards program in the fall of 2005, will offer $1 million for qualified reports of copyright infringement between July and October. The alliance said it has collected $22 million in settlements with hundreds of companies since starting the program. Many tips are from employees who report their company’s use of unlicensed software on office computers. “Reporting software piracy is the right thing to do and BSA is pleased to reward individuals who come forward with credible information,” said Jenny Blank, the alliance’s senior director of legal affairs. “Businesses often have a million excuses for having unlicensed software on office computers.” The alliance is also starting a related national “Blow the Whistle” radio and Internet advertising campaign encouraging employees to report software piracy. Dallas law firm Scott & Scott, which specializes in IT compliance issues, has publicly criticized the alliance’s program. Scott & Scott said many small and midsize businesses targeted by the alliance lack the resources to invest in costly compliance programs. In many cases, employees are responsible for the liability creating activity, so they should not be able to collect a reward for it, said the firm’s managing partner Rob Scott. “Your employees could put you in legal jeopardy and frequently do, that’s why we object to exorbitant rewards for this,” Scott said. Audit defense niche has become the main line of business for Scott’s firm, which has 10 lawyers and information technology professionals. Software publishing companies and other software trade associations besides the Business Software Alliance also have enforcement programs, Scott said.

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