Software crackdown sees results

A crackdown on the use of illegal software within the design industry is bearing fruit, with industry groups working alongside designers to keep them on the right side of the law.

The Business Software Alliance, which runs enforcement projects to support the software industry, has given the all clear to the software used by Building Design Partnership.

BDP approached BSA after a software audit by independent consultants found that during expansion, “software programs had inadvertently been installed, contrary to our licensing agreements”, says BDP IT manager Paul Davies. The process which followed lasted nearly six months. BDP runs between 500 and 600 PCs in six offices and has 750 staff.

The BSA says that by taking the initiative, BDP has avoided costly litigation.

Geoff Webster, chief executive of the Federation Against Software Theft, a Government-formed body which combats copyright theft, backs BSA’s policy of helping companies to comply with software laws. “I would support what the BSA does when it takes this sort of initiative,” he says. FAST also offers advice and performs an enforcement role.

So far, FAST has given a clean bill of health as regards software laws to around 20 of its 900 members. Meanwhile, trading standards officers are also cracking down on companies which use software illegally (DW 21 March).

BSA estimates that losses from software piracy in western Europe reached 1.5bn in 1996.

Piracy levels fell by 4 per cent last year on 1995 figures, according to the alliance, but 34 per cent of business software used in the UK has still been copied, equating to a revenue loss of 210m to the software industry.

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