The Business Software Alliance (BSA) has filed a claim of 4.6 million rand (£400,000) against a South African college for installing counterfeit software.
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This has infuriated college officials who claim they tipped the BSA off about the software in the first place.
The BSA said Boston City Campus, a tertiary training institution, was guilty of systematic piracy of software including Microsoft, Adobe and Lotus products.
"This case shows how blatant and extensive some piracy can be. You cannot accidentally pirate hundreds of software programs," said BSA chairman Mark Reynolds.
However, the college disputed this version of events. "We approached the BSA more than a year ago, because we were concerned about the proliferation of software among our students," said director Ali Katz on a South African Web site. "We asked for advice on how to curb this," he added.
Reynolds told Computer Weekly that the BSA received an anonymous tip-off in May 1999, which led to the investigation, and that the alliance had no record of contact from the college.
Katz also told the Web site that consultants had inspected the college after the BSA summons was served and said it was "100% legal", and he invited the BSA to inspect the premises.
Reynolds said the current state of affairs did not affect the BSA claim against the college. "They may well have purchased a licence in the interim, but this does not affect previous copyright offences," he said.
The BSA's recent high-profile campaign against software piracy offered a £10,000 reward for information about companies using counterfeit software. It also sent an audit to businesses requesting details of their software.