The BSA Settlement On Unlicensed Software

The Business Software Alliance (BSA), an organisation which provides resources to help companies develop and maintain a best practice approach to software licensing, today announced another settlement with a UK business for unlicensed software use, one of many cases being brought against UK businesses this year.

Northern Ireland based medical equipment manufacturer, Armstrong Medical Limited, was found to be using unlicensed copies of BSA member software.

The company settled the case with the payment of £12,000, which included settlement fees and the cost of purchasing the software licenses it needed to ensure it was legally compliant in the future.

Julian Swan, director of compliance marketing EMEA, BSA said: "Enforcement isn't our first port of call, we prefer to educate companies to become compliant."

Swan stated that on average over a 12 month period, they would expect to take action against something in the region of one hundred companies.

The BSA uses a variety of sources to find out about breaches.

"We encourage the public to give leads, and we reward them for doing so," said Swan. "In the UK the majority of leads are from the public. We also sometimes get information from our members."

The reward is capped at £10,000, but is calculated as a proportion of the value of the settlement.

"A good proportion of our leads [concerning companies in breach of licensing laws] come from employees, or ex-employees," added Swan.

Swan went on to explain that although some organisations knowingly use unlicensed software, there are other cases where it is more a question of negligence, rather than intent.

"Often they're unaware of the extent of the under-licensing," he began. "Possibly because the managing director or the board might have thought that this was the responsibility of the IT department. It's not an excuse, but it does happen."

Concerning the financial amounts of the settlements the BSA has pursued, Swan said: "We've had some in Europe for several hundred thousand euros, and in some in the US for millions of dollars. They can be large settlements, but £12,000 is by no means the smallest."

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