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Association Bisnow
February 19, 2008


It tracks computer crime around the globe and gets tens of thousands of tips every year on its hotlines. A special unit of Interpol?  Nope, the Business Software Alliance, which has been fighting software piracy here and abroad for 20 years.



Everyone's going international these days, but CEO Robert Holleyman tells us the BSA had a global perspective from the start.  Despite a budget of just $1.2 million and a staff of three when he arrived in 1990, the BSA was already active in six countries. Things have exploded since:  it now has $50 million revenue, 75 staff, and active operations in 85 countries.   


When you represent software companies like Microsoft, Adobe, and Symantec, you don't need any paper on your desk. BSA's 85 members make the software you use at work-except for Minesweeper, Solitaire, and other games you play when the boss isn't looking.


When it's not pushing open trade and beefing up intellectual property laws around the world, BSA combats software piracy by encouraging citizens to report it through 112 websites and hotlines in more than 25 countries.  (Dial 888-NO-PIRACY.)  Bob says  most tips come from ethical employees within companies that are stealing software, or from IT consultants who notice thievery. The BSA advertises its watchdog operation wherever it's most effective-in the U.S., through direct mail, radio, and web ads; in India, on the side of an elephant.  (We're not making that up.)  When tips come in, BSA researches them and vets them with lawyers; if they decide to take action, it can be anything from a letter requesting an audit to notifying legal authorities.


Bob was named one of the world's 50 most important figures in intellectual property by Managing Intellectual Property magazine.  Maybe that's why he got to appear on this fancy business panel with Charlie Rose.


Over the last four years, BSA has been particularly active in China (one of its nine foreign offices is in Beijing).  Software piracy dropped 10 percent in that country from '04 to '06, which Bob says is partially responsible for the 300% increase in the legitimate market over the same period. His association's new 5-year plan, which kicked in January 1, calls for even greater activity in the "BRIC" countries (that's Brazil, Russia, India, and China), all of which combine fast-growing PC sales with lax IP enforcement. Our suggestion:  BSA ads on borscht labels.

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