The majority of UK firms believe it is inevitable that corporate IT systems will run unlicensed software.
The Computer Weekly/ Harvey Nash Big Question looked at the problem in light of the WH Smith Online case (left).
Almost 70% of firms said the scenario of running unlicensed programs could not be avoided, with less than a third saying the problem could be controlled.
One worried respondent said, "Understanding the complexity of software licences makes the tasks of Hercules pale into insignificance.
"I do not believe there is any conscious attempt to evade or defraud, it is simply the overwhelming complexity and individuality of the licences."
Another said, "Most large users try hard to avoid the problem in my experience, but it's a minefield."
A different company, which accepted the inevitability of the problem, called for "firm and constant" action against those caught - the employees installing it.
But another company maintained it was easy to stop staff loading what they wanted onto their PCs, and that the problem could be tackled. Others said complex licensing agreements were no excuse.