The Business Software Alliance is to hold its first official “truce”, allowing UK companies using computer software illegally to seek advice without fear of prosecution. As heavy software users, design consultancies have often fallen foul of software licensing laws in the past.
The truce, starting on 6 March and running for 30 days, will see the computer industry organisation, formed by software developers, offering companies the use of its own software auditing tool.
The BSA GASP tool will be available on the BSA website, allowing consultancies to carry out their own audit. If illegal software is found, the BSA will offer help in meeting legal requirements.
The BSA has previously mounted regular crackdowns on the use of unlicensed software. “The truce period is a formalisation of a process that BSA has always offered UK businesses,” according to BSA campaign manager Mike Newton. “We understand that some of the illegal software in use is as a result of poor systems management, as opposed to deliberate theft.”
Around 29 per cent of UK computer programs are thought to be unlicensed. Owners and directors of companies who knowingly benefit from pirated software can face unlimited fines or prison terms of up to two years.
“Companies which don’t have enough user licences or make illegal copies of software run an ever-increasing risk of prosecution,” warns Newton, “BSA receives an average of one lead every working day on UK organisations suspected to be using software unlawfully.”