Diana Piquette: Anti-Piracy Princess

Diana Piquette is not your ordinary executive. As Microsoft Canada’s licence compliance manager she is measured not by how much revenue her department generates, but a completely different set of metrics.

She, along with the Canadian Alliance Against Software Piracy (CAAST), has to try and teach

the IT community here what’s right and wrong.

Another mandate of hers is educating children and young adults that illegal file swapping and hard disk loading is wrong.

CDN caught up with the busy Piquette at the upscale King Edward Hotel in Toronto to discuss the war on piracy.

CDN: What are your key goals for 2004?

Diana Piquette: The most important thing continues to be awareness and education. From a channel point of view, I think it is continuing to protect the honest channel. What I would look at on my personal goals for 2004 is finding ways to have more of an impact on licensing compliance and anti-piracy. Making more of difference.

CDN: Piracy is still rampant. Thirty-eight per cent of software is illegally copied. Do you think you, Microsoft, CAAST, and the BSA have done everything possible to stop piracy?

D.P.: Given the resources that we have had a lot has been done. Even if we had unlimited resources you could never do everything that needs to be done. I still think there is a long way to go in terms of reaching out and touching young people, consumers, resellers and helping them understand the value of intellectual property and the economic impact. The Canadian government is far behind what the U.S. is doing with copyright laws. There is still a lot to do. It will take a lot of effort.

CDN: Is file sharing and Internet piracy latest wave of piracy and how are you combating this?

D.P.: It is the latest wave of people distributing product that is not legal. It has not changed the piracy rate but what it has done is it has changed the way that product and files are shared. The things we are doing is we have specific groups around looking at Internet and doing checkpoints. It is a big part of our enforcement and awareness point of view. The underlining problem remains the same and that is people need to put more value on other people’s ideas. When that is done the distribution may change or not, but at the ground level people will understand the importance of intellectual property. And when that happens whether the Internet is there or there is a new way of distributing product, (piracy) won’t happen.

CDN: U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah has suggested that PCs used for illegal downloads should be destroyed remotely. What do you think about that?

D.P.: I think that sounds a little radical. Can you just imagine big blow ups happening in neighbourhoods? What’s that noise dear? Oh, just another PC blowing up. This is on the radical side.

CDN: Only in America.

D.P.: No kidding.

CDN: Have you ever heard of FLOSS?

D.P.: What you do with your teeth? Are you serious?

CDN: FLOSS stands for the Free Libera Open Source Software. It is a movement in Canada that disputes the BSA and CAAST findings. They say the findings are fundamentally flawed because it compares the amount of PC shipments by province and the amount of software required and then it is compared to BSA member companies and open source software is not accounted for.

D.P.: The way that the studies have been done is the best way it can be done. It is very difficult to calculate. This new study will come out with another organization heading it up and it will calculate more and it will be done in the new way and in the traditional way. It will be interesting to see the difference in the piracy rate once you put those together. In the new study they will calculate OS and retail products along with home and business apps. It will be segmented in customer type and size.

CDN: Are you going to be scared to find out what the new results are?

D.P.: With those other factors it might be scary.

CDN: One of the criticism of CAAST since it was formed in 1991 is that it has been driven by Microsoft and only caters to Microsoft. Is it a matter that no one wants to pirate open source products or can CAAST be more open with its numbers?

D.P.: CAAST is an organization that represents software publishers. They pay a small membership fee and they are represented equally. It is not closed to anybody. If you are a software publisher and you pay your membership fee you can join CAAST and have a representative body on board.

CDN: Do digital reprimands work?

D.P: If it actually stopped someone I would think it would be slim. It does bring more awareness and attention to the issue. I do not think it is the solution but more of an awareness thing. It is making a statement but I do not think it will reduce piracy on its own.|

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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