Friday, January 25, 2008
London/Munich, 18.9.2007 – BSA Germany has fined SAE College, owned by Australian businessman Tom Misner, a record penalty of 2,5 million Euro after SAE was convictable of software piracy of a never before seen scale. As a result of a criminal complaint by BSA on behalf of Adobe, Autodesk, Avid and Microsoft SAE faces criminal prosecution with more penalties, as well as a possible jail term for its German director Andreas Grotloh of up to five years.
After all German SAE Colleges had been raided in early 2006, BSA secured an arrest order against SAE and all German liquid assets were frozen immediately. All German SAE’s educational computers were checked for unlicensed software in a co-ordinated raid in 2006, and German police was more than successful. As a consequence, SAE had to delete all pirate software and now has to purchase all licenses for software they teach just as every other company.
An internal source at SAE Germany, who has to remain undisclosed, explained: “The situation occurred because we were relying on one single employee, who was responsible for our software management in all German branches during a phase of extensive growth. Management was shocked when it discovered the size of the issue and had to learn that monitoring processes and tools could have avoided the situation."
This “scapegoat version” of an uninformed management is not supported by an extensive email correspondence we received from a source which also has to remain undisclosed. The correspondence proofs that BSA already nearly nailed SAE on software piracy at the end of the 90ies. This was ultimately avoided by SAE’s top management getting directly involved and collect SAE software licenses from over 30 colleges to cover the software licenses needed for the Singapore college. In particular, the following people were involved in this email correspondence:
- Tom Misner – referring to www.sae.edu the “Founder, CEO and President”.
- Rudi Grieme – referring to www.sae.edu the “Managing Director and Senior Vice President”
- Philip Kilic - at the time General Manager of SAE Asia
The correspondence does not only reveal how wrong the official statement is. It also becomes clear how SAE’s top management systematically planned and executed profit maximization by knowingly using pirate software all over the world, whilst always being prepared to be able to cover any single college at a time by collecting the few licenses all over the world. SAE did not expect a raid that would affect more than one college at a time and though to “get away” with it – which worked out perfectly for at least ten years before they got busted. Finally, it appears that the criminal energy caught up with SAE – although the mastermind still seems to get away with it by sacrificing others.
As a result, BSA and SAE entered into an agreement forcing SAE to pay 2.5 million Euro. Sadly though it has to be mentioned that BSA, representing honorable software companies who would be expected to not enter into a foul deal, obviously agreed to not mention the brand name SAE in any press release and therefore missing out on the educational effect this could have had. A compliment to the SAE lawyers to allow Tom Misner to keep going with his criminal and ruthless business practices so proudly described in “The Misner Factor”.
Robert Holleyman, President and CEO of BSA explains: "This success demonstrates our global weight and the results of worldwide campaigns against software piracy. Software by BSA members was of vital importance for SAE, and still SAE did not properly administrate this asset. As a consequence of our campaign, SAE has to play by the rules now – but the price they pay is much higher than if they had initially thought about implementing tools and processes to comply.”
However, Holleyman forgets to mention the price the former SAE employee who did not only report the piracy to BSA, but fought for BSA and justice for nearly 5 years. The ex employee who has to remain undisclosed quit SAE in mid 2002 after he found out about irregularities in the software licensing of the company. After confronting Tom Misner with his finding, he was bullied by top management and degraded in his function which made him leave the company.
After leaving the company, his life became a nightmare. He was defamed publicly, accused of an arson at SAE Munich (where important evidence in regards to software piracy disappeared), accused of signature forgery and faced multiple ridiculous claims. “Strangers” even broke into his house in Munich and removed documents and evidence.
After SAE was raided, the ex employee received multiple murder threats, was followed and threatened openly. This peaked in imprisonment on remand for the ex employee after he tried to defend himself against an anonymous attacker in summer 2006. He was only released after 7 weeks. Ironically, the same state attorney who capitalized on the software raid against SAE, German “Oberstaatsanwalt” Gierschik, refused to release the employee on bail.
The ex employee is more than disappointed about the final outcome. He is under the impression that BSA does not fulfill what it promises. BSA was not only unable to give him anonymity and therefore exposed him to threats and violence, but also accepted “hush money from SAE”. Whilst BSA comes out as a big winner, SAE still prosecutes the ex employee and tries to ruin his life.
Asked if he would recommend to work together with BSA and report software piracy, he says: “BSA has no interest whatsoever to protect their sources, and does not even give promised anonymity. My last hope was that my reputation would be re-instated by the press release, after I had been publicly humiliated by SAE. But even that didn’t happen, so I can only recommend to shut up and mind your own business. Neither German authorities nor SAE care about you at all.”