Opinion

Staff put bosses in jail jeopardy says BSA

Licensing watchdog the Business Software Alliance (BSA) has warned managing directors that staff are putting them at risk of prison sentences of up to two years by using unlicensed software on company PCs.

Daniel Thomas

Over half of employees believe that using unlicensed software on their PCs is one of the least risky activities they could do at work according to a survey of 1,000 users conducted by ICM Research for the BSA.

The alliance said that if found guilty of knowingly having illegal software on the company network, directors are liable to unlimited fines or two years in prison.

"We recommend that companies look to put terms and conditions in employee contracts stating that the user of the PC is responsible for the software that is used," said Mike Newton, BSA campaign manager in the UK.

Rob McCallough, head of IT at Masons law firm, said this stipulation would be difficult to enforce. He suggested that companies tell staff they should not bring on to the site any software that has not been licensed. "If a director can show a court this type of procedure the sentence is going to be a lot lighter.

"I cannot see a court handing out a two-year sentence though, unless there is an extremely serious case of abuse that has been repeated," he said, adding that this claim seemed like scare tactics from the BSA.

As part of its campaign against software piracy, the BSA has extended the scope of its software audit, which requests information about a company's software, to firms with less than 19 employees.

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This was first published in February 2001

 

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