Ad agency fined $100K over software

An unnamed Melbourne-based advertising agency has agreed to pay $100,000 in damages to an alliance representing software companies, after it admitted it didn't have licences for all of the software it was using.

An unnamed Melbourne-based advertising agency has agreed to pay $100,000 in damages to an alliance representing software companies, after it admitted it didn't have licences for all of the software it was using.

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) represents large software companies like Adobe, Microsoft, Symantec, as well as a plethora of small ones, and attempts to protect intellectual property rights associated with software licences.

In a statement issued this morning, the organisation said the unnamed advertising agency had been using unlicensed software by Microsoft and Symantec. The matter was not the subject of a court case, but the agency concerned had agreed to pay $100,000 in damages as compensation. It will also now purchase valid licences for its software and submit to a software audit.

The agency develops websites and provides web hosting services for clients, according to the BSA, but was "insufficiently licensed" for its development environment and also not properly licensed to provide hosting services for its customers — among other infringements.

"This case serves as a warning that organisations need to implement software asset management (SAM) controls and processes," said BSA co-chair Clayton Noble. "Use of unlicensed software can undermine industries that rely on IP protection and copyright laws, as well as create an unfair playing field."

BSA was not immediately available to provide more details about the case — such as how the software use was detected, as well as how it approached the advertising agency to rectify the situation.

The Australian division of the BSA has previously called for Australian governments to create specialised cyber cops to track down software pirates and bring them to justice. In a post on Microsoft Australia's government blog last year, Noble wrote that one way to drive down software piracy would be to "create specialised intellectual property enforcement units at the national and local level and provide dedicated resources to investigate and prosecute intellectual property theft".