This was a broadcast e-mail I sent out as manager of a system administration department. It turned out that the culprit was one of my own staff whom I'd repeatedly warned about this behaviour, and whom I'd inherited as an employee from my predecessor as department head. That person quit just before I was able to complete the process of firing him (possibly warned by the staffer for whose benefit he was violating copyright law, the head of HR). Ironically, he fled to Apple Computer, Inc., a proprietary software company. --RM]

Date: Thu, 22 Jul 1999 16:44:18 -0700
From: Rick Moen <[e-mail address omitted]>
To: [company mailing list of all the members of my department]
Cc: [managers, HR]
Subject: Software bootlegging — departmental policy

Monday, I backed up [person]'s data files to an encrypted archive on mcp. Initially, the copy failed in the middle, because Windows Explorer crashed, which turned out to be caused by McAfee VirusScan. VirusScan is a (rather mediocre) proprietary commercial virus-checker and remover. It had been installed onto [person]'s workstation within the past week. The product is freely downloadable from the Internet, but must be site-licensed. [Company name] does not at this time site-license VirusScan. The installation was therefore illegal — bootlegged.

There are severe legal penalties for companies that bootleg proprietary commercial software. Typically, a company raided and audited (by the Software Publishing Association or Federal Trade Commission) for such activity is subjected to public humiliation, a large fine, and the obligation to pay full list price for all unlicensed software found on the premises. People get summarily fired.

If the raid happens to be by the FTC, their first step after finding evidence of illegal software is to impound all computers. [Company name] does not allow software bootlegging, and neither do I. Please note the following points of policy:

1. No sysadmin may install unlicensed proprietary software (except as described in point 3, below). This includes downloadable proprietary software such as:

All of the above are illegal at [company name]. Please note that shrink-wrapped (full) editions — WordPerfect Personal Retail, WordPerfect Server Retail, Star Office Professional Edition — are lawful for business use, BUT that McAfee VirusScan absolutely requires a site licence. Period. Even though it can be downloaded "free" from the Internet.

2. Any sysadmin who sees any of the above products, or other likely unlicensed proprietary software, installed at [company name], must inform me immediately, so corrective action can be taken.

3. We are glad to help employees purchase and install proprietary software required for their jobs. If the sysadmins have a copy of the product (licensed or not), we will install our copy immediately upon written (e.g., e-mail) notice of a purchase order by our buyers (such as Wendy).

4. If in doubt, please do not hesitate to check with me. [Name of CTO] tells me we are in discussions for a VMware site licence, so we will regard that one as OK to install. However, please note that proprietary software installed inside a VMware image (including MS Windows 98 and MS Office 97) must also be licensed per workstation.

Rick Moen, Chief System Administrator, [company name]
[contact info]

From rick Mon Mar 11 08:48:21 2002
Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 08:48:21 -0800
Subject: Re: [ILUG-Social] Legislative Alert

Quoting kevin lyda (

> I love the BSA. I hope they crack down harder. People using closed
> source s/w in violation of the terms on which it offered are breaking
> the law and should be punished. I think every company using such s/w
> should be checked for compliance, have a staff member whose primary
> (sole?) duty is to insure license compliance and conduct quarterly
> audits on everyone's computer.
> Go BSA!

Yes, indeed.

When I was chief sysadmin at $PRIOR_FIRM, an alleged Linux company, I quickly realised that various departments were freely bootlegging sundry pieces of proprietary software, all of it Win32 stuff. Some of this was even being done by one of my staffers, whom I was preparing to fire for it when he resigned and went to Apple Computer.

I tried to put a screeching halt to the practice. I tried to collect copies of all proprietary software purchase documentation and licensing, and was then going to implement a modest audit regime.

And, you know what? I was stonewalled by upper management and by various department heads. They gave vague reassurances and no documentation whatsoever, and just refused to cooperate.

Allegations that the fundamental problem was a complete and total lack of management integrity are... unconfirmed at this time. ;->

Cheers,                 "Heedless of grammar, they all cried 'It's him!'"
Rick Moen                       -- R.H. Barham, _Misadventure at Margate_