Software managers would like to see companies which pirate software, including design groups, dealt with more strictly, according to a new survey from the Business Software Alliance.
UK managers who took part in the survey said software piracy was almost as serious as tax fraud, a view echoed in other European countries.
The offences were rated on a scale of one to ten. UK managers took a tougher stance than most, rating tax fraud at 9.3 and software piracy at 8.9.
Tougher penalties are among the remedies favoured. In the UK, half those questioned said offenders should pay compensation plus the original cost of the software, while 12 per cent said offenders should be prosecuted in court.
The BSA, which represents software manufacturers, has been waging a high profile campaign to reduce piracy.
Recent legal precedents include one set in Finland, where an engineering design company had to pay a fine as well as the total cost of the pirated software.