U.K. company gets US$498,000 slap over unlicensed software

Business Software Alliance achieves record payment from a company that used multiple copies of illegal software.

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) is to receive a record out-of-court settlement from a British company which used unlicensed software.

The record payment--£250,000 (US$498,125)--dwarfs previous settlements, which averaged £10,000 last year.

In this latest case, announced on Thursday, the company guilty of software-license infringement is "a major U.K. firm in the infrastructure and public-services sector". The BSA would not reveal details of who the perpetrator is, saying only that the company "cannot be named for legal reasons".

According to the BSA, the £250,000 will be paid by the company in one lump sum.

The company was found to be using unlicensed copies of Adobe, Autodesk and Microsoft software on hundreds of PCs across several different sites, the BSA said in a statement.

An investigation into the company began in October 2006. The settlement was agreed in May.

"The size of the settlement is a reflection of the serious nature and scale of unlicensed software use at this company," said Sarah Coombes, BSA's director of legal affairs for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

The BSA believes that illegal software use is a large problem in the United Kingdom. The rate of unlicensed software use in the United Kingdom runs consistently at around 27 percent, the BSA said, and it is currently investigating a large number of companies over suspected unlicensed software use.

Microsoft is one company that works very closely with the BSA and last year it said it was changing the way its software licensing worked because of the high rate of illegal use of software like Office. The company said then that as many as a third of Office packages could be unlicensed.


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