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Joe Camel is Gone, But the Software Ferret Is Here

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The Business Software Alliance has a new site, Play It Cyber Safe, and a new mascot, a grinning ferret, in its campaign

    to teach kids as young as 8 years old “safe and responsible” computing practices, like avoiding the rampant software piracy that member companies like Microsoft and Adobe blame for eroding their profits.

    “It’s never too early to start teaching kids about good behavior, the right thing to do is to reach out to them while they’re very young,” said BSA spokeswoman Diane Smiroldo, noting that some children get their first taste of Web surfing in preschool.

    The software industry loses roughly $11 billion a year to piracy, the BSA estimates.

    ….The site includes games featuring the cartoon ferret that seek to teach kids about software licenses, computers and pirated CD-ROMs. It also features a list of the usual safety tips for children online, including not engaging in online chats with strangers who could be sexual predators.

    The site contains links to sample curricula for teachers to educate kids in grades 3-8 about software piracy and legal computing practices.

    ….The BSA’s as yet unnamed ferret is not the first animal enlisted to teach safe computing practices. Last September, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) unveiled “Dewie” the Internet security turtle, a cartoon character that teaches Internet safety tips to adults and children. [Washington Post]

More on software piracy and protection here.

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About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted, Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.
  • That’s not a ferret. This is what ferrets look like. I won’t go into details, but other members of the mustelid family include weasels and polecats.

    One of the BSA’s tactics is to make a BSA audit so onerous that it is in a company’s best interest to fold and pay them off than to go through with it. It lets them claim to have done good and increases their value to the alliance members. Tales of huge penalties at Fortune 500 companies are used both to recruit new members to the alliance and to convince other companies that it’s easier to just pay the BSA away.

    Here’s one trick I’ve heard them use with large companies that actually get audited: it doesn’t matter if you have the written liscence agreement, the box, the physical material, your PO, your cancelled check, etc., they consider software “unliscenced” if you cannot produce an invoice for it.

    It’s too bad, because they are right that people should not illegally copy software and that companies should not run their businesses by illegally copying software. However, they use such bad tactics that they taint their own efforts. If only they could get Madonna to swear at infringers…

  • Eric Olsen

    Mike, Mickey doesn’t look much like a mouse either, and Pogo sure as HELL doesn’t look like an opossum – one of God’s ugliest creatures – so I’m not too worried about animated verisimilitude; but I do very much appreciate the BSA information, which I vaguely knew of but didn’t have any real handle upon. Thanks. I am certain their theft-loss figures are as distorted as their tactics.