Industry police force the Business Software Alliance (BSA) has reported fines of £2.2 million in 2010 for UK businesses caught using unlicensed software.
The total is approximately twice the total for 2009, but in 2010 the BSA went on a publicity offensive to draw attention to the consequences of getting caught without software licenses. The increase could also be related to the BSA's campaign to get insiders to inform on their employers or former employers in return for a financial reward. "Informant reports come through frequently and businesses need to be aware that it is easy for employees to blow the whistle on unlicensed software use." said BSA compliance 'marketing' manager, Julian Swan.
"Companies that cut corners to save costs when it comes to renewing their software licenses are breaking the law and this is an ideal excuse for frustrated employees to secure some payback on management that thinks it can get more with less"
The highest value settlement made in 2010 for a single business was £40,000. This is likely to be in reference to the Quacquarelli Symonds Group, caught last December without enough Microsoft and Adobe licences. The company also had to pay another £40,000 on legal costs.
Native Design was fined £24,000, Barrhead Travel Services Ltd paid out £10,000 and Armstrong Medical paid over £12,000 in fines and costs.
The highest pay out to an informant so far has been £10,000 for offering incriminating information on his company.
In total there were 1,795 legal actions files and 447 exposed companies. The BSA says that it received 3,000 leads allowing it to start investigations.
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