CloudSoftwareWorkspace

Yorkshire Company Punished For Using Unlicensed Software

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

Follow on: Google +

Business Software Alliance gets £6,500 in settlement fees

East Yorkshire based Web Marketplace Solutions had to pay out over £10,500 for using software without an appropriate licence, following an investigation by the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

BSA took interest in the company after receiving an anonymous tip. It then requested Web Marketplace Solutions to conduct a self-audit, which revealed copyright infringement.

As a result, the digital marketing agency had to pay the cost of the settlement, as well as purchase new licences.

Under the watchful eye

BSA is a non-profit trade association headquartered in US, created to advance the goals of the software industry. It is especially tough on piracy, and has taken upon itself the job of punishing businesses that use unlicensed software. Influential BSA members include Adobe, SAP, Autodesk, Microsoft, Apple and Symantec.

The copyright infringement at Web Marketplace Solutions was uncovered as part of a BSA campaign focusing on Yorkshire, in which 1500 local businesses were asked to prove they have appropriate licenses for their software. A similar campaign is currently being implemented in Reading, where over 1,000 businesses have been contacted.

As a result of the audit, Web Marketplace Solutions had to pay £6,500 to settle copyright infringement, and a further £4,500 to get its licensing in order.

In March, BSA agreed a similar settlement worth £10,000 with Blackpool-based construction company George Morrison over its use of unlicensed software products.

“Companies must recognise that the abuse of intellectual property rights is a serious offence and can have severe consequences,” said Philippe Brière, chair of the BSA UK committee.

“Companies such as Web Marketplace Solutions rely on a sound reputation, and settlements such as this one can seriously damage the company’s standing and are evidently costly. What’s more, the use of unlicensed software exposes businesses to significant security risks,” he added.

“The use of unlicensed software is not always deliberate. Mistakes tend to happen when a company’s management perceives software licensing solely as an IT problem, without recognising that failure to manage software properly could expose their company to legal redress, not to mention operational failure,” commented Julian Swan, director of compliance marketing at BSA.

In its recent Global Software Piracy Study, BSA has claimed that last year, one in four programmes installed in the UK were lacking a correct licence. According to the Alliance, this resulted in a £1.2 billion loss for the software industry. These numbers were later called “absurd” by Forbes columnist Tim Worstall, who said the report ignored basic rules of economics.

Arrgh! Do ye know about online piracy, ye scurvy dog? Take our quiz!