European businesses paid out more than £10.2m in 2009 as a result of legal action by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), with just under £1m coming from UK firms.
The payments included damages for using unlicensed software and fees.
The payments were a sequel to nearly 4,000 leads regarding companies using unlicensed software and 2,256 legal actions that the BSA conducted across Europe.
The BSA stepped up its legal efforts in 2009 and won more settlements than in 2008, said Sarah Coombes, senior director of legal affairs for BSA EMEA.
She said the real cost was actually higher because it excluded companies' own legal costs, as well as indirect expenses such as disruptions to business operations, the impact to cashflow when having to make unplanned software purchases, damage to companies' reputations and the repercussions of operational downtime, as a result of using unsecured software.
Michala Wardell, chair of the UK BSA Committee, said, "Effective management of software can save money by identifying underused software."
According to IDC's 2008 piracy reduction impact study, a 10% cut in software piracy could contribute £6bn in economic growth, increase tax revenues by £1.47bn, support local programs and services, and create 13,622 more jobs.