Businesses are paying millions in settlement and licensing costs for copyright infringements, according to anti-software piracy organisation, the Business Software Alliance (BSA).
Action against companies in Europe, Middle East and Africa cost £6.5m in the first half of 2010, according to the BSA's latest report.
This represents an increase of more than £500,000 compared with the same period in 2009.
More than £2.5m was paid out in settlement fees and a further £4m was used to purchase business-critical software to ensure companies were legally compliant.
In the UK alone, the total cost to businesses reached over £2m, more than double the amount paid out by UK businesses in the whole of 2009.
"The BSA conducted more than 1,000 legal actions in the first half of this year in EMEA," said Sarah Coombes, EMEA senior director for legal affairs at the BSA.
"One company's use of unlicensed software was so extensive that a settlement of nearly £200,000 was agreed," she said.
In the current economic climate, Coombes said businesses should not run the risk of flouting copyright laws and opening themselves up to potential legal and financial sanctions.
Despite campaigns by the BSA to educate businesses on software licensing, the figures show there is still a way to go in changing the attitude of some companies, said Julian Swan, EMEA director of compliance marketing at the BSA.
"We hope that these figures act as a reminder to businesses that if they are caught using unlicensed software, the BSA will take action," he said.