A chap called Peter Lieverdink has just posted this to the OSIA list, and I think it’s something worth your consideration as well:
For a large part of your average working day, I hang out on the #ubuntu irc channel on freenode, supporting and/or abusing various Linux users.
As of probably about a month ago, a lot of filipino users associated with small businesses (like internet cafes etc) joined the channel, asking for help. This was a bit odd, as their influx grew rather suddenly. This morning, one of them actually mentioned why this is.
About a month ago, the Phillipines government, after signing a FTA with our favourite imperialists, announced that businesses would have 30 days before they (in association with the business software alliance) would start raiding, arresting and fining windows and other license violators.
Australia recently signed a FTA with the same imperialists, so that leaves me to wonder when the razzias might start here. A kiwi mentioned something similar is starting in NZ as well.
Hmmm. It’ll take a while for our friend Johnny to ramp up Australia’s ASIS forces to rival the cold-war USSR’s, but...
On a more serious note, it’s probably time to weave a welcome mat for potential new community members, and warn friends and family about what’s coming. This will have the triple effect of making you look like a prophet when your prediction does come to pass, of beginning to soften up the more resistant candidates, and (if you do consulting of any sort) of getting some early adopters or valued customers who would otherwise have a problem converted before rush hour hits.
I wouldn’t expect home users to be targeted directly, but if a business which you or any of your family are associated with (e.g. as employees) gets raided and comes up short (as many will; keeping track of serial numbers and holograms is generally not anyone’s first order of business), I would expect the BSAA to go through the home machines as well. And unlike Rat in The Core, I don’t think they’ll give you time to run a set of demagnetisers over your hard drives, so now is the best time to start checking stickers vs installed serials, and either hunting for alternatives or suffering socially and financially if the stickers come up short.
For those who think I’m just ranting, Con Zymaris forwarded an email from IDG entitled “Did you know? Unlicensed software use by businesses is now a criminal offence” to the main OSIA list this morning.
The email says:
On 1 January 2005, amendments to the Australian Copyright Act came into effect as a result of the Free Trade Agreement with the USA. [insert soundbite of raucous laughter from Rusty Russell at this point] It’s important that you take a moment to read about these changes because as a result of the amendments, unlicensed software use by businesses, in some circumstances, is now a criminal offence carrying major penalties and potentially gaol terms.
(Reference: Section 132 (1) (a) of the Copyright Act)
Company directors and IT managers need to take careful note of the changes, as your company could potentially be held liable even if you are unaware or not directly involved in unlicensed software use.
OK, first let’s threaten you, and then offer to sell you the cure. They link to the BSAA’s site, which has a friendly smiling photograph and this (emphasis mine):
On 1 January 2005, amendments to the Australian Copyright Act came into effect as a result of the Free Trade Agreement with the USA. It’s important that you take a few minutes to read about these changes because as a result of the amendments, unlicensed software use in businesses is now a criminal offence carrying major penalties and potentially gaol terms.
The law in question, by the way, comes within a whisker of tossing aside presumption of innocence (emphasis mine):
the wording makes it a criminal offence if a person knows or “ought reasonably to know” that software is infringing copyright. Company directors and managers needed to take careful note of this as they would normally be expected to know what is happening in their organisation and their company could be held liable even if they are unaware or not directly involved in piracy
The BSAA will, of course, guide you to your friendly local Microsoft (Adobe, AutoDesk etc, but primarily Microsoft) reseller and generously allow you to buy your way out of a prison term if you kowtow and scrape enough.
NEWS FLASH! Open Source won’t do this to you. Linux won’t do this to you. Firefox won’t do this to you. OpenOffice won’t do this to you. The GIMP won’t do this to you. PySol or Battle for Wesnoth won’t do this to you. PostgreSQL, PostFix, Apache or Samba won’t do this to you.
Open Source is the only safe option.