Informant key in $150k BSA software haul

A Melbourne engineering company has settled after being approached for allegedly using Autodesk, Adobe and Microsoft products without a licence, the Business Software Alliance has said.

update A Melbourne engineering company has settled after being approached for allegedly using Autodesk, Adobe and Microsoft products without a licence, the Business Software Alliance has said.

The company handed over $150,000 as part of the settlement, which the BSA said was the second-largest amount that it had enabled for damages in Australia.

The use of unlicensed software was reported by a former employee of the company, who received $20,000 for dobbing them in via the BSA website.

BSA Australia co-chair, Clayton Noble, said that the case showed that it wasn't worth it for companies to use software without a licence.

"Some businesses think they can save a few bucks by installing pirated software rather than licensing it. But they risk loss of data and network downtime if their pirated software is non-genuine, or doesn't receive important security updates. And, if they're caught, those businesses also face a substantial damages bill on top of the need to purchase proper licences. Business software piracy is false economy."

A group of which the BSA is a member has previously said that software piracy costs the Australian economy $900 million in 2010, although the Pirate Party has challenged this estimate due to the methodologies the group used to reach its conclusion.

According to Flexera Software, which sells software optimisation products, which help companies with licence compliance, said that research showed that last year, 61 per cent of enterprises had reported being audited by at least one vendor, which was up from 54 per cent in the previous year, which itself was up from 30 to 35 per cent in prior years.

"It is clear that failing to manage the software estate strategically — or doing so tactically — is exposing organisations to unacceptable levels of financial risk," the company said.

The Melbourne engineering firm will now make sure the rest of its software is legal, and implement software management procedures to prevent relapse.

Updated at 10:29am, 9 September 2011: BSA later clarified that the informant had received $20,000, not $5000.