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SMEs shelling out thousands after being caught using unlicensed software

Figures from 2016 from the BSA indicate that SMEs that have been caught using unlicensed software are paying huge amounts in settlements

UK firms had to splash out the best part of £1m in damages and fees last year to make amends after being caught using unlicensed software.

The BSA has been a constant threat to those trying to avoid paying their way for the past few years and has provided an update of what happened in 2016.

Totting up the amount paid in damages and fees, including the cost of acquiring new software to become compliant, last year those SMEs caught spent £914,587.

Those costs have gone up from £770,192 in 2015 with the highest individual settlement costing one particular SME £84,300.

The BSA found that sales and distribution firms were the worst offenders with engineering, architectural and design and manufacturing companies also flouting the law.

Sarah Coombes, managing director, BSA EMEA, said that even though the overall rate of pirated software was dropping the costs for those caught continued to rise.

“It’s concerning to see that unlicensed software is still costing small businesses hundreds of thousands of pounds every year. Despite the rate of unlicensed software in the UK dropping, it’s clear some businesses are continuing to ignore copyright law, leading to greater settlements and legalisation costs," she said.

“We encourage all businesses to ensure they have stringent software asset management (SAM) practices in place. Implementing even baseline SAM tools and processes, such as regular inventories and having a software use policy for employees, can have a huge benefit," she added.

The industry lobby group called on anyone with knowledge of unlicensed software to report it.

The BSA has seen the volume of leads coming from whistle blowers increasing from 290 in 2015 to 335 in 2016. It's own research has revealed that just over a third of employees would report their bosses if they were breaking the law.

That call for reporting offenders comes on the back of recent moves by the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) to encourage SAM specialists to blow the whistle on clients that they find are determined to use unlicensed software.

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