Sergey Nivens - Fotolia
For the last few years the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) has been encouraging those staff unhappy about their employer using unlicensed or counterfiet software products to dob them in.
The whistleblowing campaign has clearly hit home with those frustrated by bosses failing to pay their way and FAST saw 133 reports made, 98 which related to the intentional illegal use of software.
This is only the second time FAST has opened up about the volume of reports it gets through the whistlelowing line and last did it four years ago. part of the reason for revealing the figures now is to counter any assumption that the UK is well on top of the software piracy problem.
The decision to reveal the activity levels comes at a time when the software piracy rate has been falling slightly as the channel and vendors get the message across about the dangers of using illegal products, but the concerns from FAST are that there is still £1.3bn being lost to unlicensed products.
There are also worries that some of the victims of software piracy include ISVs that are not in a position to simply lose revenues because customers have chosen to pirate their intellectual property.
“There are those that argue that intentional software misuse will hardly hit the bigger vendors in the technology sector. But let’s be clear it impacts both large and small companies and it is in the SMB space that this is most keenly felt," said FAST's general counsel Julian Heathcote Hobbins.
The pirate's targets
According to FAST's whistleblowers the most commonly reported business software programs intentionally misused are:
Adobe Creative Suite
Adobe Creative Suite and Photoshop
Dell Migration Manager
"It may come as no surprise to some that Microsoft, with its diverse and attractive product portfolio, is subject to such high levels of piracy. In fact, if you study the FAST figures, Microsoft products accounted for over 60% of all active cases we progressed with. But while this is a global giant, the smaller vendors, the start-ups and the domestic, home grown software developers are also falling victim to those who intentionally use unlicensed software and that means revenue is hit, jobs are threatened and innovation stifled," he added.
Often at moments like this, with piracy figures or court cases being revealed and announced, there is a call for the channel to get close to customers to help them through the issues around software licensing.
"Software licensing has to be considered as part of any responsible businesses’ internal governance rather than just a burden for the IT department. It’s not just a question of the company doing the right thing by paying for the software it uses or being efficient about making sure you’re not paying for licenses you don’t need. Pirated software can also make the business vulnerable to cyber breaches, which are more prevalent than ever. If users are downloading cracked software and installing it, it often brings malware along with it," said Heathcote Hobbins.