Saskatchewan School Division Pays $190,000 To Settle Software Claims

Several years ago, I gave a talk at the National Law School of India in Bangalore.  While at the school, I was informed that it had adopted a zero tolerance policy toward pirated software.  The policy had not led to widespread use of licensed proprietary software, however.  Instead, the school – widely regarded as the finest law school in India – had gone almost completely open source.  The India experience came to mind as I read a release from the Business Software Alliance announcing that it had settled a claim against the Chinook School Division in Swift Current, Saskatchewan that will see the school division pay over $190,000 for the use of unlicensed software.

While the BSA presumably hopes that the significant settlement sends a strong message on the need for schools to fully license the software they use, the Chinook School Division has the opportunity to use the settlement to send a second message by rethinking its software use.  Rather than investing thousands of dollars in proprietary software licenses, why not move toward an open source model where case studies show dramatic cost savings and governments increasingly promote its potential.  Schools should not be infringing copyright through the use of unlicensed software, but there is a better way to save money and respect the law.


  1. George Smiley says:

    And the BSA shouldn’t be virtually “extorting” large amounts of money from public instituions and misusing the word “piracy.” These “audits” are invariably based upon snitching by disgruntled and/or greedy employees – and the BSA offers to pay well for these tips.

  2. Penguins Rule says:

    BSA is Linux/FLOSS best evangelist
    Every story I read about the BSA coming down hard on some group, and that group deciding that they never want to be in this spot again makes me smile… Ernie Ball (guitar string mfg) was the first such story I read:

  3. I second that, due in large to the actions of the BSA, open-source software really doesn’t need any kinda of marketing campaign. Thank you BSA, for the free advertising.

  4. All schools should use Open Source
    Cases like this can only hurt the BSA. Strategically, it would be beneficial to provide free software to schools. These schools are providing free software training to the customers of tomorrow. I hope schools really start embracing open source. Not only will schools be free from lawsuits, but it will save the school money.

  5. What would it have cost to use opensource i say
    What would it have cost to use opensource i say?
    a heck of a lot less hten 190,000 buckarenos, that tax payers are now shelling out , YUP lets continue this practice until NO ONE has ANY money left.

  6. Remarkable
    Incredible boldness. Admirable

  7. Riley August says:

    Open Source Software
    Schools should not be using proprietary software ANYWAY. If you go back to anything they’ve ever taught you about ethics, it’s simply wrong to sign on with one vendor while trying to teach anything to students. Stay in the open source community, and let students learn about proprietary alternatives on their own.