The Business Software Alliance (BSA) has taken legal action against four manufacturing companies which it claims were guilty of using illegal software.
The BSA identified a discrepancy between the software installed across the companies' computers and the number of licences held for each product, resulting in charges of software piracy from copyright infringement.
Total costs so far, not including legal fees, have already reached £50,000, according to the BSA. Three of the firms have paid £32,000 in settlement costs, and two have jointly spent £18,000 on the appropriate licences.
"In the manufacturing sector, ensuring that orders are completed on time and within budget is vital," said Julian Swan, director of compliance marketing for the BSA in EMEA.
"If unlicensed software is used, companies do not have access to the same support services as legal versions, which can result in downtime and major delays, impacting on profitability and the ability to deliver.
"In an industry where competition is fierce and reputation is paramount, businesses should not risk jeopardising their future by trying to cut corners. Perceived cost savings from using unlicensed software is just an illusion."
Office furniture firm Samuel Bruce Ltd agreed to a £20,000 settlement and a further £8,000 in new software licences after being caught using illegal versions of Adobe, Autodesk and Microsoft software on around 50 PCs.
Manufacturing outfit J Tools Ltd, meanwhile, paid £7,000 in settlement fees to the BSA for using unlicensed Autodesk and Microsoft software on approximately 20 PCs. Purchases of licensed software following the investigation totalled an additional £10,000.
Garran Lockers Ltd, a Welsh manufacturing company, was found to have around 25 PCs installed with unlicensed copies of Microsoft software and has coughed up £5,000 in settlement costs and new licences. The company blamed an under-performing director who has since left the business.
The final victim was car part maker International Automotive Components Group Ltd (IAC), which investigators say was using unlicensed Microsoft server software at one of the sites it acquired in early 2008. There is no news on whether a settlement has been reached with this company.
"The IAC case demonstrates the importance of showing due diligence and auditing software assets when purchasing or transitioning to new sites. The same principle applies to mergers and acquisitions; it's very common for companies to overlook the legality of their inherited software estate," said Swan.
"Mistakes tend to happen when management considers software compliance as just an IT problem. They do not realise that, on a larger scale, failure to manage their software properly could expose the company to legal redress, not to mention operational failure as a result of running unlicensed and unprotected software."
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago