Almost one in five UK company directors do not take responsibility for the legitimacy of software in their business, research has revealed.
A study commissioned by the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) found that 18% of directors did not know whether software licences were checked.
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Twenty four per cent of directors surveyed said software licence checks were carried out less than once a year.
John Lovelock, chief executive of the Federation Against Software Theft and Investors in Softwarewelcomed the report.
"This report confirms that the issue of under or indeed over-licensing is of major concern not only to the software industry, but to business in general," he said.
According to the report, just over half of the 1,000 respondents were not in touch with whether their business software was properly licensed.
Thirty three per cent said they did not know how often their organisation carried out checks, and 19% said checks were carried out less than once a year.
Lovelock said the study was prompted by lobbying within the IPO by the IP Crime Group for independent research to draw attention from the government to IP theft.
"Government now has to sit up and listen and respond accordingly," he said.
The study, which looked at all intellectual property infringement in the workplace, found many UK companies do not have processes or policies in place to control intellectual property theft.
Some 28% of respondents said their company did not have any formal policy on downloading digital content from the internet.
Only 45% said there was a formal policy in place to forbid illegal activity and 7% said they were aware copyrighted material was copied at work.