Kaspersky Dumps Anti-Piracy Group in SOPA Protest

Security vendor Kaspersky has announced it will withdraw its membership of the Business Software Alliance (BSA) over the group's support of SOPA. The Russian company, which is famous for its anti-virus products, says the pending legislation will hurt both innovation and consumers. In protest, Kaspersky will end its association with the BSA on January 1st 2012.

While the opinions of outright SOPA opponents are well documented, it came as a surprise last month when the Business Software Alliance (BSA), a former staunch supporter, published a blog post indicating it had some reservations on the pending legislation.

The BSA – which counts giants such as Microsoft, Apple, Adobe and Intel among its ranks – declared in their headline that SOPA Needs Work to Address Innovation Considerations.

Nevertheless, for BSA member and security vendor Kaspersky, it’s too little, too late.

In a clear protest against SOPA, Kaspersky has announced that on January 1st 2012 it will withdraw its membership of the BSA.

“Kaspersky has not participated in drafting the bill, nor participated in the debate on SOPA, and does not support this initiative,” the company said in a statement.

Kaspersky, one of the top anti-virus vendors in the world with a turnover in excess of half a billion dollars, is one of Russia’s leading technology groups. The 14-year-old company feels that the provisions of SOPA go too far, will hinder innovation, and hit end-users.

“We believe that such measures will be used contrary to the modern advances in technology and the needs of consumers,” the company added.

One of the other local companies that could be immediately hit by the introduction of SOPA is Russia’s own Facebook equivalent, VKontakte. The company is listed prominently in both the MPAA’s and RIAA’s lists of so-called “rogue sites”, with the latter describing the social networking site as a “reprehensible actor“.

But VKontakte spokesman Vladislav Tsypluhin says the company’s copyright problems are in the past.

“[The MPAA/RIAA letters] to the office of the U.S. Trade Representative were sent six months ago. After that we worked the system to work with copyright owners on the site,” Tsypluhin told Russia’s Izvestia.

“We have an arrangement with the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, they will check our copyright compliance, and then we will be excluded from the list of pirate sites.”

But despite Tsypluhin’s assertions that the US music and movie industry complaints against it are now outdated, the MPAA’s latest submission to the USTR is dated October 26th 2011 (the RIAA’s a little later) and VKontakte are still right there on the “rogue site” list.

Tsypluhin says that VKontakte now has a facility for copyright holders to inform the company that their rights are being violated on the site. These notices will be forwarded to the user who uploaded the unauthorized material and illegal content will be replaced by legal. Exactly how this last feat is performed is unclear. What is clear is that both the RIAA and MPAA remain unimpressed.

Kaspersky’s departure from the BSA will put more pressure on the trade group to further soften its support for SOPA, but whether it can do that while appeasing its existing members remains to be seen.

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