Microsoft has set up an open licensing programme to help small businesses keep their software management and licensing in line. The move follows the BSA's Crackdown 97 campaign last year which highlighted a UK business piracy rate of 34 per cent.
Small businesses have been the major culprits, according to Microsoft, which said the UK software industry lost around £100 million last year to piracy. However, the company would rather educate small businesses than resort to litigation.
The Open Licensing scheme will enable companies with as few as 10 PCs the chance to buy software covered under the Open Licensing programme, which can then be copied to multiple machines.
The scheme also covers upgrades and is intended to minimise administration, installation and training costs, because all users can have access to the same current version of the product.
"We hope we can make managers aware of the potential consequences of even inadvertent piracy and encourage them to take steps to ensure they are in full compliance with software licensing and copyright laws," said David Gregory, Microsoft's anti-piracy manager.