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Almost a third of software in Britain is illegal, according to a report out this week. Over 200 companies took part in the survey by FAST (Federation Against Software Theft) and KPMG. It claims that 29 per cent of all software in use in the UK is illegal. Previous statistics suggested the country’s businesses were riddled with unauthorised software -- up to 80 per cent, said FAST. But the UK fares better than many other European countries. The equivalent study in Greece found it had the highest proportion of illegal software in the continent, with 74 per cent. Spain had 57 per cent, with Ireland a close third with 56 per cent.The best performer was Germany, at 28 per cent. FAST CEO Geoff Webster told The Register: "The results confirm our suspicions that corporate UK does see itself using copied software, but there is still a lack of awareness by senior management." FAST and KPMG warned that UK managers were leaving themselves open to civil and criminal prosecution by ignoring unlicensed software on company PCs. While two thirds of respondents were convinced that their own organisations had enough controls in place, the same number claimed many firms were using counterfeit products. Paul Diamond, KPMG information risk management senior manager, said: "For some companies, illegal software may be no more than games or go-faster programmes installed by employees. But for many it is more serious than that with copies of unlicensed software including Microsoft being used. "This may well be simply due to not having evidence of ownership or confusion as to how many copies are actually being used." As well as leaving companies open to charges of piracy, managers themselves could be prosecuted, said Diamond. Only 12 per cent of respondents were adamant that they could stop staff illegally installing unlicensed software.®

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