SMB Fined £18k For Unlicensed Software Use

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Fine is on top of £81,000 in extra licence purchases

A British property security firm has been fined £18,000 for using unlicensed software, and has had to cough up an extra £81,000 for additional licences.

The British Software Alliance (BSA) said today it had been alleged First Choice Facilities (FCF) used unlicensed software as a result of a company merger.

The firm was caught using unlicensed Adobe, Autodesk, Microsoft and Symantec products, claiming it had unwittingly started doing so after the acquisition. The BSA was tipped off by a whistleblower.

The cost of unlicensed software

Those vendors are all represented by the BSA, but the body takes all the money from the fine without passing it on to members directly. “The settlement goes towards BSA’s running costs, helping to fund all of BSA’s activities, including local education programmes,” a spokesperson told TechWeekEurope.

The BSA said it was a “common mistake” for merging companies to assume their respective systems used properly licensed kit.

“As an acquiring company, finding out, when it’s too late, that you didn’t run the necessary checks and inadvertently infringed intellectual property (IP) rights can result in hefty damages and substantial, unforeseen costs to buy the very software licences you should have bought in the first place,” said Michala Wardell, chair of the BSA UK Committee.

“As we continue to educate businesses on the risks of inheriting unlicensed software through a merger and acquisition, businesses will struggle to cite ignorance as a mitigating factor and those found with unlicensed software could be liable to pay greater sums of money in damages.”

The £18,000 fine marks one of the biggest penalties handed out by the BSA. In June, East Yorkshire-based Web Marketplace Solutions was told to pay £10,500 for using software without the right licences.

In March, Blackpool-based company George Morrison was handed a £10,000 fine for similar offences.

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