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Recent examples of corporate users being rapped on the knuckles include global eyecare company Bausch & Lomb and Clackmannanshire Council in Scotland, both of which agreed to pay undisclosed sums to the Business Software Alliance (BSA).
As vendors get tough with organisations using unlicensed applications, software regulators have identified how legislation could lead to a greater role for resellers prepared to help maintain software licences.
Richard Willmott, general manager for the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST), said as vendors started to track down illegitimate users of software, dealers should form tight relationships with their customers.
"There is a lot of opportunity for resellers. They should be providing legal advice and offering licensing support. Businesses should not be scared off by a slight price increase if they avoid the legal hassles," he argued.
Mike Newton, UK programme manager for BSA, said corporates had to face up to the challenge of cleaning up their software: "We can't stress enough how important it is for companies to audit their PCs and tally up the software in use against the licences or licensing agreements they have."
Things are destined to become even tougher for licence dodgers when The Miller Act comes into effect later this year, placing the responsibility of unlicensed software on company directors, not their IT managers. Anyone found guilty of disobeying the Act could face a ten-year prison sentence.
On another front, more regulations forming part of the Waste of Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) legislation will be introduced into England by 2004.