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Software piracy police bust AOL UK

It's a fair cop, says Netscape owner -- we'll come quietly

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Red-faced executives at AOL's London offices have been busted for using illegal software after the industry enforcer, the Business Software Alliance (BSA), moved in after an anonymous tip-off. AOL Bertelsmann Online -- the UK arm of AOL, jointly funded by German media giant Bertelsmann -- was caught red-handed using unlicensed copies of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator software at the company's offices in London. The company held up its hands to the infringement and agreed to pay a settlement to the BSA, although neither party will disclose the full extent of the fine. The BSA has been quick to point out that AOL's misdemeanour was not premeditated. Instead, AOL was the victim of its own bad systems management, which allowed their software usage to increase without securing enough licences. This is the standard line given by the BSA and fellow anti-piracy organisation the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) when the offending company admits its guilt. Unfortunately, pleading ignorance is not a defence. Nor did it stop someone -- possibly a disgruntled former employee -- from blowing the whistle on AOL and phoning the BSA hotline with the tip-off. A spokesman for AOL denied all knowledge of the action. So The Register can only assume that AOL is so ashamed, so embarrassed about its slip-up that it just doesn't want to talk about it -- even to its own PR staff. ®

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