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UK.biz fined £1.8m for illegal software - BSA

Five year enforcement plan

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UK companies paid out £1.8m ($3.34m) in fines over the last five years in settlements for illegal software use, the Business Software Alliance reports. As well as paying fines, firms caught using unlicensed software were obliged to cough up an undisclosed amount to put their software assets in order.

The BSA routinely blames illegal software use in business on ineffective software asset management; but a willingness among some firms to cut corners is also part of the problem.

"This is not about accidental breaches in software compliance,” said Graham Arthur, legal counsel for the BSA. "Many of the companies that settled with the BSA last year had conducted software audits and knew they were under licensed, but didn’t go the next step and legalise."

According to July 2004 IDC survey, 29 per cent of software in the UK is illegal. A 2003 study, which excluded consumer software, found 26 per cent of business software was improperly licensed. The BSA reckons unlicensed business software is the greatest cause of lost revenue for developers.

The BSA said it would rather work with companies on compliance than use enforcement, But it will continue to use legal sanctions "as long as the piracy problem exists". Settlement funds received by the BSA are reinvested back into BSA programmes, such as its Annual Software Audit Return campaign, due to be re-launched sometime this year. ®

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