FAST highlights need for supplier checks

The case of a cleaning company using unlicensed software that came on PCs has given FAST a chance to remind users the need for vigilance

Even with the season of goodwill almost upon us there is still time for the warnings to be issued that there is not going to be any love given out to those using software illegally.

The use of unlicensed products deprives the legitimate software industry and resellers of millions of pounds and there is an ongoing battle to prevent the problem from getting any worse.

Just to remind those hoping to save a bit of money and cut legal corners using software that is either not paid for or illegally downloaded, the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) has issued its latest example of what can happen when you get caught.

It is usually the Business Software Association that parades those firms it has caught out and legally settled with. But this time FAST is pointing out that a cleaning firm in Southern England has been found using unlicensed Microsoft products, including Windows 7, Office and Windows servers.

The case came to light as the result of a whistle blower informing FAST that the firm was not paying its way on the software front.

The audit indicated that there were licenses covering the business bvut they had not been assigned to the company and the fault lay with a reseller that had sold on illegally licensed PCs either maliciously or as a result of not checking the licenses properly.

The cleaning company worked with FAST, and has been praised for its prompt action, and as a result of the audit findings opted to but a new fleet of PCs with the correct licensed software already installed.

“This is an example of a business believing it had done everything in its power to ensure that it was complying with the license regime.  In fact it was its own supplier that had failed to check the validity of the licenses it had in turn bought from a company based in Italy," said Alex Hilton, CEO of FAST.

"The company was faced with the reality that it was using illegally copied software and that the original software – and its licenses – were sold to a completely different organisation entirely," he added.

Over the past few years the advice from the software industry has been to check that the software being paid for is licensed and phrases like, "beware a deal that looks too good to be true" have also been fairly well aired in the SME community.

The latest case will underline the importance of working with a reseller to make sure that all the checks have been made to ensure that the business stays on the right side of the law.
“Our message to businesses across the UK is that you need to remain vigilant with your own IT suppliers and chose a reputable one that can prove the provenance and legitimacy of the software they sell, supply and install," said Hilton.



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