Con Zymaris conz at cyber.com.au
Wed Jul 14 13:48:11 EST 2004

[Feel free to disseminate to other lists]


Australia -- 14th July, 2004

Australia's Open Source industry body OSIA calls upon governments
worldwide to do more to stem the levels of software intellectual
property misuse, which impacts the ICT industry globally. By emphasising
alternative solutions based on open source software, governments and
corporates can do much to halt the illegal copying of proprietary

According to Business Software Alliance (BSA) figures released 
July 7, 36 percent of all the software installed on computers
worldwide in 2003 was bootlegged. This is an illegal activity and
constitutes a serious liability on both organisations in which this
activity occurs as well as governments which fail to clamp down on it.

One key advantage that free and open source licences bestow on
all computer software users is that they are totally free to use and
install that software in whatever manner and in whatever volume they

This means that users of open source software are far less likely to
unwittingly, or otherwise, infringe on copyright or licensing terms. It
also means that mere administrative error in auditing will not expose an
organisation to liability. 

OSIA believes that the most likely reasons for illegal copying are:

1) Lack of knowledge of the licencing terms. This includes installing 
   proprietary software on more computers than its licence allows.

2) Lack of appropriate software auditing and software usage policies 
   within an organisation. This includes not fully accounting for the 
   number of users/systems which use proprietary software or for a lack 
   of server licences used on the development, testing, cold, warm, and 
   hot-backup servers.

3) Economic circumstances. In many countries, the price of proprietary 
   software is proportionally very high, costing what some people earn in 
   weeks or months of wages.

Open source licences (such as the GPL) fully rely on the existence of
copyright laws for legal protection. Open source licences need copyright
protection in order to ensure rights and freedoms to users of the

OSIA members provide solutions based on open source software, and are
very aware of the importance of copyright laws which protect the rights
of authors of software.

OSIA recommends that the following steps be taken to counter the problem 
of copyright infringement:

1) That all users should read and understand the terms of the licences 
   of all the software they use.

2) That organisations introduce policies of strict compliance with any
   special licensing requirements (such as attaching licensing stickers,
   or retaining special licensing certificates) required for the use of
   proprietary software. 

3) That organisations strictly record, in a properly auditable manner,
   their compliance with all special licensing requirements imposed for 
   the use of proprietary software. 
4) That organisations should introduce policies preferring software with 
   less restrictive licensing requirements, such as open source software, 
   to reduce legal risk.

5) That governments in nations with high levels of illegal copying of 
   software, introduce policies of directing their citizens towards 
   open source software. This will reduce copyright-infringing activities, 
   and counter criticisms of those countries from various trading 
   partners and world trade and intellectual property organisations.

Illegal copying of software has been an ever-present spectre in the
software industry for over three decades. No measures undertaken thus
far have been shown to be effective in its reduction. Now, open source
software offers industry, governments, organisations and individuals a
significant opportunity to stem this activity. 

The broad adoption of open source provides a better solution to the
piracy problem than ever more complex changes to the copyright law or
expensive court cases. Given this compelling evidence, we ask
organisations aiming to minimise the illegal copying of software, such
as the BSA and BSAA to strongly support the broader adoption of open

- - -

About Open Source Industry Australia Limited.

OSIA is the industry body for Open Source within Australia. We exist to
further the cause of Free and Open Source software (FOSS) in Australia
and to help our members to improve their business success in this
growing sector of the global Information and Communication Technology
(ICT) market.


Spokesperson/Contact: Con Zymaris
Phone: 03 9621 2377
Fax: 03 9621 2477
Email: media at osia.net.au

- - - END - - -
Con Zymaris <conz at cyber.com.au> Level 4, 10 Queen St, Melbourne, Australia 
Cybersource: Australia's Leading Linux and Open Source Solutions Company 
Web: http://www.cyber.com.au/  Phone: 03 9621 2377   Fax: 03 9621 2477

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