Distributors and resellers have voiced concerns over the Business Software Alliance's (BSA) practice of issuing 'final reminder' notices urging companies to declare their software usage or risk prosecution.
The standard letter, which has been issued to all small businesses in the UK warning of the dangers and penalties of software piracy, has been toned down after a complaint made to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) was upheld last year.
Since the complaint was made by the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, the letter heading has changed from 'formal notification' to 'final reminder'.
But there are still concerns in the channel that the letter is intimidating.
Brent Cutler, managing director of CCM Distribution, said: 'I'm not happy with the tone of the letter when there is no legal obligation to respond.
I don't know what the BSA is and it's very confusing because there are lots of organisations feeding off the same line.'
He added: 'If Microsoft or whoever is concerned that the software I'm using is not legal, then I expect to hear from it, or it's a waste of my time,' he added.
One reseller, who declined to be named, said it was confusing for users as well as for businesses in the channel. 'Some of our customers are very anxious and even frightened by the letter, because no one knows what it means or even if the letter is a fake.'
But Mike Newton, company relations manager at the BSA, defended the letter as 'necessary'. 'We are perceived as upfront and direct, but sadly this is what we have to do. When we've sent out toned-down letters, we've had a pathetic response. I can understand that some don't like the final reminder part, but we have a 40 per cent response to our mailing programme.'
He added that there were no plans to make further changes to the letter.
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