An interview with Andrew Clarkson, Director of the Anti-Piracy and Compliance Department at Dassault Systèmes

Andrew Clarkson worked as a British policeman for over 20 years. He then worked for IBM as an investigator. He is now the director of the anti-piracy and compliance department at Dassault Systèmes.

You’re the Global worldwide director of Dassault Systèmes’ anti-piracy and compliance program. What does your job consist in?

DS like many other software vendors suffers from its products being cracked and then made available on the internet for free or for purchase (CATIA for example).  We conduct research into this issue and last year with the help of another company we were able to identify the volume of downloads over a 4 week period.  This gives us great intelligence into the countries where our products are downloaded and in a way gives us an indication of the interest of our products on the market.

Working with technologies and the help of the sales department, we can identify the companies that utilize our software without having purchased a license. The sales can give us the lead, for example because a client they have been working with suddenly needs fewer licenses than expected. We take the case and investigate it.

What happens once you have identified a company that uses pirated licenses?

We have a strategy that we call the “4 Es”. It stands for Engagement, Education, Engineering and Enforcement: it’s a continuum starting with engagement. First, we engage with the companies we identified to encourage compliance. Then we educate, to ensure that they understand the need to be compliant. We work with our own sales department to discuss how to work with the companies to get them to be compliant. We also address the various places where you can get the pirated products to reduce their availability. Then comes engineering: we investigate the way our software were cracked and we provide intelligence to our R&D team so that they can work on it. Finally, the last “E” is for enforcement: sometimes we decide to take a stronger approach, and we partner with law firms and law enforcement forces to target some companies, either because the engagement model failed, or the circumstances of the case force us to take enforcement action. It’s a last resort measure.

We use intelligence to support our actions and this allows us to shape our strategy.  And so we can be more accurate in the way we execute on the strategy. In cities like Paris, Lyon or Toulouse for instance, we know that there is a strong manufacturing industry. We can look at the supply chain for the big companies that are there, and conduct profiling using the knowledge freely available on the internet and the information from our investigations to know what to expect from these types of companies. We share this information internally particularly with sales so that we can engage with the companies involved. Working in this area of business is about looking at the behavior of why people use unlicensed software and this is important if you want to start shaping people’s ideas in a positive way. I found that the things that I learned as a police officer can be transferred into the work that I currently do and in some ways it’s exactly the way I used to do with criminality: For example in an area where car theft is high, you work with the car industry to make the cars more difficult to steal, you go to the authorities to improve the lightning. This is sophisticated problem solving, it’s very scientific, but you also need to use intuition.

What are the results for Dassault Systèmes?

My team has a revenue target every year: we try to achieve this revenue by converting illegal use into legal use of our software. In 2012, we generated several millions, including damages and recovery of enforcement costs.

How long does it take to close a case?

It depends on the size of the case. For SolidWorks, it can be closed within 48 hours, because the licenses are less expensive than some of the other Dassault Systèmes products and it makes it easier for the company to regularize their situation. For CATIA, it can take between a month and a year. The engagement process really is the best model. You also have to acknowledge that sometimes the companies using illegal versions don’t have money to buy licenses. You have to negotiate with them to accept that they have to pay something, but if you’re too aggressive you can put a company out of business, which we don’t want too.

Who are the users of unlicensed software?

It can be small firms, but also big companies with over 10 000 employees and that have a target to meet. Everybody is constrained by money, and the CEOs of those companies don’t generally know that this goes on, because the decision to risk using illegal licenses is taken at a lower level or by individuals acting alone. Generally we go to the CIO at first, or the CFO, to show them the evidence and to have that conversation with them about how we are going to resolve the situation. We ask them to conduct an internal audit around their infrastructure, we give them the opportunity to do it themselves, and then we negotiate. To illustrate how we see the engagement model, only 1% of all cases worldwide lead to a raid and in those cases less than 0.1% ended in Court.  Clearly taking legal action is an option and one that we exercise with due regard to the circumstances and in each of the cases in that 1% there was multiple use of DS products.

For the user it can be a very complex set of factors that make them do it.  As I said, because they have a limited budget but tight timelines to deliver on, most people using crack software don’t want to, but find themselves trapped in it. We need to change that behavior.

Who’s your team? What are you looking for when you hire new people?

I work with a team from various backgrounds, inside and outside of Dassault Systèmes. I like having a team where people come from a lot of different disciplines where we can learn from each other. It’s like a rugby team, you can’t have a team full of forwards. It’s good to give people the opportunity to learn.   It’s nice sometimes to have people that come to the role with no perceptions and are ready to learn a new trade, which gives the company the chance to get the best from them.

We are based in the key strategic regions: China, India, South America, North America, Russia. There are 18 people worldwide in the team, and we work with 47 law firms who support us with our cases. We also leverage the law enforcement forces where we need to. We are also working with audit companies and partner with them when we want to encourage compliance.

Within Dassault Systèmes, we work with the sales organization. They are the ones who close the deals. We like that partnership because it gives sales ownership of the issues and allows them to maintain the right relationship with the customer. Also, there’s an ethical issue: for integrity and ethical reasons, the anti-piracy team shouldn’t be the one to close the deals. It helps to ensure transparency in the process.

Propos recueillis par Claire

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