Address software discrepancies now - or face the consequences

Users have been urged to come forward with any issues relating to unlicensed software before anti-piracy authorities get...

Users have been urged to come forward with any issues relating to unlicensed software before anti-piracy authorities get involved.

Kit Burden, a partner at law firm Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, said, "I suggest users come clean and tell [the IT supplier]," if their organisation is running more copies of software than it has licences.

Burden said exceeding licence usage is often regarded as a breach in contract. The software supplier can then legitimately terminate the contract, preventing any use of the software.

Burden's advice follows a statement earlier this week from anti-piracy group, Business Software Alliance (BSA), which stated that the high-street retailer House of Fraser paid an undisclosed fine for running unlicensed software from Macromedia.

"Users should aim to do a quiet deal with a confidentiality agreement," Burden added.

Steve Barrie, chief analyst at Bloor research, agreed, and advised users to avoid treating software auditing as a technical issue.

"Someone is about to drag the company name through the mud. [Negotiations] have to be handled right at the top of the organisation," he said.

Barrie said that there was a lot of unintentional piracy in situations where businesses were not covered by existing software licences.

One IT manager contacted by CW360.com said software development groups within businesses were prone to lapses in software licensing.

"Users are at the most risk when they have technically literate people who feel they can bypass [security]." In his experience, one of the biggest problems is with software development tools that developers load onto their work PCs.

"Many have software tools at home and do not see the risk in loading the same software at work," the manager said.

He added that Macromedia was one of the popular product families for developers.

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