Industry, CIOs publish guidelines to carry out software piracy order

Industry, CIOs publish guidelines to carry out software piracy order

By Christopher J. Dorobek

GCN Staff

The federal government has a tool in its arsenal against software piracy: a step-by-step guidebook on software management.

The guide was released by the Chief Information Officers Council and the Business Software Alliance, a Washington industry group, this year. It provides government executives with model guidelines for implementing President Clinton's 1998 executive order on software piracy.

The guidelines are 'intended to be a foundation from which departments and agencies can build their own tailored policy and procedures. They provide a starting point and a baseline for ensuring complete compliance' with the president's executive order, the preface to the guide said.

Andrew Pincus, general counsel at the Commerce Department, said the government is the largest user of software in the United States, so it is important that government agencies set a good example.

Regular customers

'Since governments make and implement laws on behalf of those they govern, they have a clear responsibility to demonstrate, through their policies and practices, the importance of adhering to laws governing the use of software,' the guidelines say. 'Legitimate software use by governments will encourage the private sector to follow suit.'

As one of the largest software users, the federal government has been the focus of anti-piracy efforts, said Anne Gavin, spokeswoman for the Business Software Alliance.

Open season

'If you don't have a policy in place, you can be guaranteed that you have a piracy problem,' Gavin said. 'This is a tool, a way to walk through the process.'

Clinton's executive order on software piracy [GCN, Oct. 12, 1998, Page 3] instructs agencies to inventory their software to ensure they are not violating copyright laws. It also tells agencies to develop copyright protection policies and to develop and maintain a record-keeping system for their software.

Clinton's order asked the CIO Council to spearhead the effort. The model guidelines, written with the CIO Council's Outreach Committee, provide sample policies for software management, use and acquisition.

The guidelines recommend that agencies establish a software management system and that the CIO have overall responsibility for the software management policy. The agency then needs to set a baseline to determine which programs the organization has so it can determine what software is used.

The organization also needs to develop a software management policy on the acquisition and use of software by the agency and its employees.

Gavin said that despite the Business Software Alliance's reputation as software police, the group is willing to work with any agency that wants to get a handle on its software management practices.


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