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  • Richard Marshall

Anti-piracy and license compliance at Trimble

Here at Trimble, we are addressing the long-standing issue of SketchUp piracy. We are now able to monitor illegal downloads of SketchUp Pro and to some extent use of SketchUp Make in a commercial environment. Trimble has a number of successful license compliance operations underway in India and China and we hope to expand these efforts into new territories in coming years.

It is important to understand that SketchUp is as successful as it is in part due to accidental and deliberate piracy; having a highly capable free product, and the friendly brand perception. Therefore our approach to license compliance will be measured, a hard stance would be highly detrimental to our ecosystem in the long term.

An additional focus of our efforts relates to bogus SketchUp stores selling illegal licenses. Though compliance will be in issue in many territories, we now have a website takedown procedure. To that end, we would like our partners to assist our efforts by reporting these sites and listings.

If a customer raises a concern or you discover a sketchy website please report the URL.

Report pirate store >

Two weeks ago we implemented a tool to scan the internet and automatically remove illicit SketchUp material and links. In the first 14 days of activity we have successfully removed:

- 13,500 links from Google search results

- 7,000 hosted installers in cyberlockers

- 15,000 propagated links to illicit material

- 600 YouTube videos linking to SketchUp cracks

Below are five common misconceptions of software piracy:

Piracy equals theft

Theft implies intention to deceive, defraud and not pay. When studied it is often found that the majority of so-called thieves are actually well-intentioned customers. In other words, the intent is not to steal; instead, they are trying to acquire legitimate goods.

Pirates don’t pay

This isn’t necessarily true for every industry. In the software industry — and Adobe is a prime example — it is estimated that around 70 percent of the people who have non-genuine product actually paid for it. They just didn’t pay Adobe.

The “company as a victim” perspective

This occurs when brand protection professionals perceive their company (versus the company’s customers) as the victim of piracy. This mindset leads people thinking they need tougher laws, more jails, more enforcement, more cops and more lawyers. In the case of software piracy, it has been found that customers were the victims and punishment is not the answer. This is a fundamental difference.

The digital space suffers from the “whack-a-mole” problem

By whack-a-mole, we mean you close down one pirate site only to have another pop right up. People give up on anti-piracy efforts saying, “How are we ever going to clean it up? Every attempt anyone has ever made has failed because the ‘bad guys’– non-authorized folks selling counterfeit products — move faster than the ‘good guys.’” It doesn’t have to be this way. The online piracy problem can largely be solved depending on the approach.

Piracy is largely a problem in emerging markets

The counterpoint to this argument is there’s no real piracy in United States or in the U.K. when in fact there is. For many companies, the US is the largest market in the world, but it also happens to be a large market of piracy (aka: non-genuine) in the world too.