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Tech firms major suspects in use of unlicensed software

BSA found that workers quizzed about whether or not they felt their workplace harboured illegal software were more likely to say yes if they worked in IT

It has been an interesting few days for those involved in the fight against the used of unlicensed software as both of the major organisations combating the problem have contributed to the debate.

Firstly there were moves by the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) to try to provide some educational marketing messaging to those that were using illegally software unintentionally, moving away from just taking a confrontational approach.

Now the other main organisation the Business Software Alliance (BSA) has delivered some worrying findings showing that if there is a problem out there with illegal practices then it is worse in IT firms.

The BSA is kicking off a campaign in London, 2016 Fact or Fiction, that is being targeted at SMEs in the financial, professional service and creative industries in the Capital. Those firms will be offered free tools and advice on software asset management.

The revelation about the tendency of IT and telco firms to be the worst offenders came from a survey of workers around their attitudes towards blowing the whistle on the use of illegal software.

Not only did workers in the ICT community have the highest rates suspecting that their employers were using unlicensed software, but half of those that worked for those types of business were prepared to blow the whistle on illegal activity, which was higher than in other sectors.

Whistleblowing has been one of the main tools in recent years in fighting the use of unlicensed software with the majority of the last few cases of firms being named and shamed coming as a result of a tip-off from a concerned staffer.

There is also the financial incentive of a reward of up to £10,000 from the BSA if a tip from a whistleblower leads to a legal settlement.

“With a third of workers willing to blow the whistle on illegal or unethical IT practices, businesses need to make sure their house is in order before it’s too late,” said Sarah Coombes, managing director at BSA EMEA.

“Our research shows that employees aren’t willing to put up with any practices that breaks laws or put their ethics into question. As a result we’ve seen a dramatic increase in whistleblower reports we’ve received in the last year," she added.  

Although software asset management is the carrot, with the potential savings on offer for those that have over licensed, there still continues to be the stick in the shape of the threat of legal action.

“Given that 1 in 4 pieces of software is unlicensed, it’s a business’ responsibility to make sure they have the correct procedures and software asset management (SAM) practices in place to stay fully compliant," added Coombes.

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My company works with many freelancers hired as needed, project by project. They will always have a few core programs that haven't been hacked. Yet. But almost every person harbors a few programs that they "picked up" from somewhere online. "Oh, THAT.... I'm just testing it to see if I want to buy it...." And that's just the few people I know. 

I'd imagine IT knows even more about stolen software. We don't know the solution.
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