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International media firm pays $3.5m over pirate software

Keel-hauled outfit suffers biggest-ever settlement

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An unnamed international media firm has agreed to pay a record fine of €2.5m ($3.46m) for being found to have "significant shortfalls in software licenses".

The record damages penalty was agreed following a criminal complaint made by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) on behalf of Adobe, Autodesk, Avid, and Microsoft.

This complaint led to police raids on the firm's premises, where unlicensed software use was found to be widespread at the business, and the "freezing of its assets".

The organisation, which cannot be identified for legal reasons, had its PCs searched for unlicensed software during last year's raids. Alongside the bust the BSA ran an investigation into the organisation's international operations to identify the extent of license compliance deficits.

As part of a settlement agreement the offending firm will have to delete all unlicensed software products and purchase the correct licenses for the software it wishes to use in the future. Substantial penalties were levied to compensate for the extended period of illegal use.

Anti-piracy watchdogs at the BSA took the opportunity to wag their finger accusingly at the offending firm. Better software management could have prevented the organisation facing high legal and settlement costs, it said.

As a result of its international enforcement action, BSA reached a global settlement with the organisation and an agreement for future co-operation and audit procedures.

An anonymous source at the firm was wheeled out to give comment on its licensing mess, which is being blamed on an unidentified scapegoat. "This situation came about because we relied on a single individual to keep us compliant and manage our software assets across multiple-locations during a period of significant expansion. The management were shocked at the scale of the situation and recognise that by having software management processes and tools in place this could have been avoided," the source said.

BSA president and CEO Robert Holleyman stated: "This action demonstrates BSA's global footprint and the integrated and coordinated efforts of our global license compliance campaigns. This action brings the organisation into compliance with the copyright laws but at a significantly higher cost than if it had software asset management processes in place to begin with.

"Sadly, it is the BSA's experience that companies undergoing periods of rapid growth, as in this case, can overlook software licensing issues," he added. ®

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