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Stephen Jones

I just found a whole bunch of pirated software on our network

So like the title says... I was looking through our network drives and came across a folder called "Programs" - looking inside it I found a bunch of pirated things; older versions of Photoshop, Illustrator, Pagemaker, Winzip, and the like.  All of them are full versions and include serials and/or keygens.

I brought it up to my boss and he just grinned and said "I dunno anything", but he was the one who mentioned the Programs folder to me in the first place.

What would you do in a case like this?  Just keep my mouth shut about it?  Quit?  Look for another job (doing it already), or something else?
here we go again... Send private email
Thursday, May 14, 2009
 
 
here we go again.
Victor the Python Artist Send private email
Thursday, May 14, 2009
 
 
> What would you do in a case like this?

Double check that my antivirus & firewall were up to date and keep on doing my job.

Or gather evidence & use it to blackmail the company after I quit.
Jos Stoned Send private email
Thursday, May 14, 2009
 
 
++Victor.
Justice Walker Send private email
Thursday, May 14, 2009
 
 
This is really a big deal to you?

It's not like you found child-porn.
bob samson Send private email
Thursday, May 14, 2009
 
 
As the previous poster says child porn does offer considerably more financial opportunities for blackmail than pirated photoshop.

Child porn can also be resold at a fair price, but there is no reason why you shouldn't do the same with all the pirate stuff. Make a copy of it all and come to an agreement with one of your local schoolkids to sell the copies down the mall.
Stephen Jones Send private email
Thursday, May 14, 2009
 
 
Delete it all and replace it with open source alternatives. Problem solved.
Rowland Send private email
Thursday, May 14, 2009
 
 
Aren't we all just a bunch of jokers here?  It SHOULD be a big deal since this business obviously seems to think that THEY shouldn't have to pay for software, while so many other people have no problem doing so.  And yet the posts here seem to make it out like pirating is a joke.

Report these fucks to the BSA, maybe you'll get a $50,000 reward.  Sucmbags who try to run businesses while pirating software should be put out of business!
I miss being anon Send private email
Thursday, May 14, 2009
 
 
Move the folder and see who complains.

If it's someone important, move it back & get it in writing.
Xampl Send private email
Thursday, May 14, 2009
 
 
IF you hadn't mentioned it to your boss you could've sent an anonymous ransom note.
Mr. Analogy Send private email
Thursday, May 14, 2009
 
 
I really didn't have a choice except to mention it to him; he told me to burn a CD with Photoshop on it for a friend of his (not working for the company) and specifically reminded me to burn the keygen along with it... first words out of my mouth was "Keygen?  You know that's illegal, right?" to which he just says "Wha?  I don't know nothin'" like a mobster in one of those mafia movies, and grinned at me.
here we go again... Send private email
Thursday, May 14, 2009
 
 
Your boss should go to prison. You should leave as soon as you've found some good alternative career for yourself. You do realize that your boss just asked you to do something illegal don't you (copy pirated software for someone else)..and you should go to prison for that! Not onlyis your boss in the wrong here...but you are...and your boss's friend will be...when he installs that pirated software...once the BSA start doing their rounds!
Ezani Send private email
Thursday, May 14, 2009
 
 
You should find a new job.  Your boss is asking you do to something illegal.  If he has no scruples in this area, who knows what other illegal things he's open to doing?

Update your resume and start looking today.  That's what I would do.  Seriously.  I wouldn't quit on the spot (gotta feed the family), but I'd definitely get out of there as soon as I had a new job to move to.  (Heck, I'd skip the two weeks' notice; it's not as if you'll be going back to work there again someday.)
Kyralessa Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
 
 
Is the company actually using this pirated software, or is it just sitting in a folder where someone has downloaded it?
John L Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
 
 
John L -
"Is the company actually using this pirated software"

It is even worse than that! The owner of the company is actively distributing pirated software to others:

here we go again... -
"I really didn't have a choice except to mention it to him; he told me to burn a CD with Photoshop on it for a friend"
Jon-Carlos Rivera Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
 
 
Does your boss have a boss? Unless he's the owner of the company, it's entirely appropriate to go to his supervisor and say that he's asking you to do something on company time that isn't company work, it's to benefit one of his friends, and that by the way it's illegal.

Of course, you may just get fired, anyway, depending on how much the boss' boss cares about this issue. If it were me - I'd probably intentionally do it wrong, and simultaneously start looking for a new job.
Mark Bessey Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
 
 
"Of course, you may just get fired, anyway, depending on how much the boss' boss cares about this issue."

Depending on the Country or State you are in, it can be illegal to terminate or harass an employee for reporting on or refusing to participate in illegal activities.

In New Jersey, for instance, we have "CEPA."
Jon-Carlos Rivera Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
 
 
If you have to break the law to keep your current job, then you really need to find a new job.  Find honest work as quickly as you can.
Walter Mitty Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
 
 
My boss is also the owner so there is nobody else to bring it up to (small company). I don't think anybody else knows of or is using this stuff... not like that makes things better.

My boss has a real sense of self entitlement. He's said as much to me in private, talking about how important he is and how he deserves to make millions. When I brought up the software he started screaming how we are a small business and can't afford to pay for expensive stuff like Photoshop. He says the same thing about our Windows server licenses and I think bought the licenses at a liquidation auction a couple years ago.

I'm updating my resume needless to say.
here we go again... Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
 
 
+1 to getting the hell out of there

Find another job, quit, and then report them to the BSA.  Document what you found on the drive; take screenshots or something to use as evidence.

Be careful though - if your area is full of other small businesses, then you might end up unemployable if you cite this as a reason for leaving the current job.  Most small businesses seem to have that whole self-entitlement thing you said your boss has and pirates software here and there to avoid spending a few hundred bucks, so no way they would hire someone who actually reported an employer for it.

Doing the right thing and reporting these folks for their illegal activities should be great and show that you are a man/woman of ethics and morals, but it's doom for you if the guy sitting across the table from you at an interview does the same thing! 

Good luck.
Witness Protection for Programmers Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
 
 
burn it to a CD and take it home.

other than that keep your mouth shut. it is not your problem.
Contractor Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
 
 
>> Does your boss have a boss? Unless he's the owner of the company, it's entirely appropriate to go to his supervisor and say that he's asking you to do something on company time that isn't company work, it's to benefit one of his friends, and that by the way it's illegal.


I don't know what world you live in, but the world I live in, that's political suicide as well as a fast track to being out the door.
Fake Programmer Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
 
 
+1 to get out.
+1 to shut up. Whistle blowing rarely has good consequences for the whistle blower. Child porn (strike that, pictures of abuse), not withstanding.
Code Slave Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
 
 
As an aside, does anyone else find it absolutely deplorable that "whistle blowing" on these unscrupulous companies hurts the person doing the good deed?  Or has our ethics really been lowered to the point where we let people get away with illegal and unethical things for fear of repercussion if you do the right thing?  To me that sounds like how the Mafia works; you keep your mouth shut because if you don't you'll be "whacked".
Witness Protection for Programmers Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
 
 
Listen everybody. This is NOT a winning talking point.

The average man on the street thinks piracy is no big deal. Maybe he's wrong but the public thinks what it thinks and you have to deal with that reality. You go making a big stink about software piracy and everybody will think YOU are the a-hole. You try to blow the whistle on this and you'll be seen as a self-righteous bully.

You'll get a better rep bombing an abortion clinic than you will trying to get a casual software pirate in trouble.

Here's an idea: make a strong case for your point of view and get it out there. See if you can change public opinion. And then maybe you'll be in a position down the road to make a difference in situations like this.
Rowland Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
 
 
Let's do a quick comparison, shall we, for the sake of argument?

I'm going to change a few words from the original post:

"I was looking through our **storage closet** and came across a folder called "Programs" - looking inside it I found a bunch of **crystal meth**.
...
What would you do in a case like this?"



Now, let's look at the criminal penalties for pirating software versus possessing crystal meth...

Software: "Illegal distribution of software can subject a seller to arrest and felony charges with fines up to US$250,000 and prison terms of up to 5 years."

Crystal Meth: "More than 500 grams: mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years and $100,000 fine"



It really doesn't matter whether you agree with the law or not.  Both can land you in jail if the court systems decide to prosecute.

My suggestion... Don't copy the software and start looking for another job.


Side note: It's funny how software piracy carries a heavier financial penalty for the same jail term.  Weird...
Russell Thackston Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
 
 
+1 Rowland.

I miss being anon:
"It SHOULD be a big deal since this business obviously seems to think that THEY shouldn't have to pay for software, while so many other people have no problem doing so.  And yet the posts here seem to make it out like pirating is a joke."

I can't speak for everyone, but I think the joke has more to do with the OP than the apparent piracy.  If you search for phrases like "small business," "used car salesman," and "revolutionary" on the forum, you might notice an interesting pattern of who posts and when.

Either there's one guy with a bunch of alts, or this forum has somehow pulled in a bunch of small business IT guys in eerily similar predicaments.

I don't mean to make light of the guy's situation.  We've all had that job we hated but couldn't quit for financial reasons.  But if I'm right, he's been posting about the job and the various potential illegalities for months now.  This board has offered plenty of constructive advice, and nothing has changed.  Faced with the choice to either take action or learn to cope with it, he's chosen to do neither.

It's really no surprise that we're not getting riled up about the boss warezing an old version of Photoshop when the boss has done many, many other things that probably would have justified quitting all by themselves.
</fury>


OP: if you're concerned, get the boss to request it in writing, along with some assurance that it's cool.  Keep a copy of it for yourself, both electronic and paper.  CYA and stay strong, and find a new job already.
Justice Walker Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
 
 
I knew a guy who lost a job because the company had financial issues, partly due to the BSA working off a tip from a disgruntled employee.  The guy in question was a unix/OSS guy all the way.  When you screw your employer by calling the BSA, remember that anyone else who works there is getting screwed as well, then ask yourself if this is really the most ethical.
noodling Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
 
 
Okay I just checked some past posts and yes, maybe this is the same person with different handles - these scenarios seem awfully familiar and similar.  I feel for the OP though, since that's a really shitty situation to be in, no matter who you are.

However, maybe the poor guy/gal is just in a bad situation and can't change his/her place of work, and can't leave due to the shitty economy.  I know a lot of people who are in bad environments right now but can't do anything because they need the money.  This might be a similar situation to that.
I miss being anon Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
 
 
"I feel for the OP though, since that's a really shitty situation to be in, no matter who you are."

Agreed.  I'm not purposely trying to be harsh on the guy, and having this sort of thing land in your lap is liable to drive someone batty.  It's just been frustrating to see every good suggestion from the forum shot down (in every thread) because The Boss has him stymied somehow.

There's a big difference between someone who ignores reality and someone who controls it, and recognizing that will help you to cope with the situation.  Yes, your boss is an idiot and probably a crook, but he's not God.
Justice Walker Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
 
 
You could always try doing some random surgeries on the executables and installation files with a hex editor.  This won't change anything  in the long-run,  but might be enough to drive your boss batty for a while.
SM Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
 
 
I have run into this many times before and there is a standard solution.

1. Exhaustively document all the proof, such as screenshots of license screens showing stolen licenses.

2. Report your findings to management "I am sure you are not aware but I wanted to draw to your attention."

3. They will do nothing.

4. When your job is sent to India, send your proof to the BSA.

5. Gloat.
Scott Send private email
Saturday, May 16, 2009
 
 
"specifically reminded me to burn the keygen along with it"

IMPORTANT!!!!

Do NOT do that. Ask him for that in writing. And even then refuse, but save the signed letter.

But only talk to him after saving proof of all this since you'll soon be fired.
Scott Send private email
Saturday, May 16, 2009
 
 
(If you do it, then in the future he will say "You are just as guilty as me in all this. Better not drop the soap!" or "I never told you to do that. You were keeping pirated software on our network? Don't be blaming me for things you did!" It's a standard gambit to get you to have blood on your hands as well.)
Scott Send private email
Saturday, May 16, 2009
 
 
"Most small businesses seem to have that whole self-entitlement thing you said your boss has and pirates software here and there to avoid spending a few hundred bucks, so no way they would hire someone who actually reported an employer for it."

And thank god for that. You don't want to work for companies that are committing crimes to make their profit! And if you do you need to be paid a LOT more to justify it so while YOU are sitting in prison or homeless you can reminisce about the good old days when you wore a $10,000 suit and drove a fancy car.
Scott Send private email
Saturday, May 16, 2009
 
 
"You'll get a better rep bombing an abortion clinic than you will trying to get a casual software pirate in trouble."

LOL. Awesome sound bite. Thanks, man, I will repeat this sometime.
Scott Send private email
Saturday, May 16, 2009
 
 
"When you screw your employer by calling the BSA, remember that anyone else who works there is getting screwed as well, then ask yourself if this is really the most ethical."

Answer - yes it is.

Companies that pay for software are at a serious financial disadvantage compared to those that don't (such as 100% of companies in India and China.)

Supporting these companies is destroying jobs for programmers at honest companies that obey the law.

Companies that pirate software, the entire board of directors should get life in prison and all their developers should be banned from working in the industry for the rest of their lives.

I'd rather they were all shot in the head, but some consider that,  which is the ethical thing to do, to be too extreme, so life in prison is a compromise.
Scott Send private email
Saturday, May 16, 2009
 
 
Justice Walker: "Either there's one guy with a bunch of alts, or this forum has somehow pulled in a bunch of small business IT guys in eerily similar predicaments."

I used to run into this a lot. Nowadays I don't work on site so much but I'm guessing it's still very common.

I thought of blowing the whistle but I just couldn't muster enough sympathy for the victim to stick my neck out. Especially in the days of the Microsoft antitrust suit. The commercial software world looked so rotten that piracy seemed almost like a petty act of vengeance.

I thank the open source community for bailing out my compromised conscience. Why pirate crap when you can have decent software for free legally?

All the software I write for money is custom jobs. There's no point in pirating what I write because it's so specific to one client's needs. This is a business model that doesn't weigh on my conscience or undermine my self respect.
Rowland Send private email
Saturday, May 16, 2009
 
 
>> Companies that pirate software, the entire board of directors should get life in prison and all their developers should be banned from working in the industry for the rest of their lives.

Scott, you're a nut.


It would be one thing if it had been child porn, evidence of a murder, etc, but we're talking about software.  It's unethical, yes, but you are over the top.
Fake Programmer Send private email
Saturday, May 16, 2009
 
 
"I thought of blowing the whistle but I just couldn't muster enough sympathy for the victim to stick my neck out. Especially in the days of the Microsoft antitrust suit. The commercial software world looked so rotten that piracy seemed almost like a petty act of vengeance."

The real victim of software piracy isn't just the company that didn't get the royalties.  It's every person in the software industry that's trying to make an honest living.

Just as the real victim in a counterfeiting scheme isn't just the person who accepted the fake bills.  It's every person who spends real money.
Walter Mitty Send private email
Sunday, May 17, 2009
 
 
"When you screw your employer by calling the BSA, remember that anyone else who works there is getting screwed as well, then ask yourself if this is really the most ethical."


I would like to rephrase this:

"When you screw your employer by *pirating software*, remember that anyone else who works there is getting screwed as well, then ask yourself if this is really the most ethical."


You can't be ratted out if you're not doing anything illegal.

I'd advocate some leniency in cases of pure ignorance.  But I think there are few cases where people are pirating software and genuinely don't know that it'll illegal.
Kyralessa Send private email
Sunday, May 17, 2009
 
 

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