A new advertising campaign from the anti-software piracy body, the Business Software Alliance (BSA) offers people money rewards for informing on software pirates. 


The street pole ads suggest informing as an alternate revenue stream and urge people with information on wrongdoing to call or dial into the organisation's Web site.
While some may question the morality of inviting people to become informers – for monetary gain – BSA chairman Andrew Lindstrom says the campaign should be seen more as an educational measure.
"It's not really about getting people to rat on their employers," he says. "It's got more to do with education – and is aimed more at the employer; we're hoping he will wake up and understand that software piracy is illegal."
Lindstrom adds that, like the South African Revenue Service, the BSA gets most of its leads regarding wrongdoing from disgruntled employees and ex-wives.
With the campaign, the BSA hopes that companies which still use pirated software will realise their vulnerability and call the BSA themselves to help them become compliant.
"We want to make people think about compliance within their organisation," says Lindstrom. "Gone are the days when people were ignorant about software piracy.
"Maybe 10 years ago people didn't know what was going on; but today it's not just the IT department that knows whether the IT is compliant or not."
The reward offer is part of a global strategy that the BSA employs and Lindstrom explains that any South African seeking to collect the reward would have to testify in court. Because of this, most informers decline the reward, he says.
Previous BSA campaigns have been targeted at education and a number have offered amnesty for companies wishing to regularise their IT. Over the last few years, there has been a marked decrease in piracy levels in South Africa, from about 60% to about 36% today.
"Corporate South Africa understands about legislation, illegality and compliance; we find these organisations are well controlled and well managed.
"The problem is the SME space," says Lindstrom. "This is where piracy through ignorance could occur while companies are growing quickly. This market is very difficult to police and that's why we need educational campaigns."