A hard-hitting email campaign is being used to warn company directors of the risks of software under-licensing.
The move comes as a study from the Federation Against Software Theft (Fast) found that a lack of awareness and widespread complacency of software licensing issues continues to plague UK businesses.
The campaign, which is being spearheaded by technology inventory management company Centennial, uses software from Inbox Media to send a personalised email movie with a tough message to recipients about the dangers of software under-licensing.
Centennial director John Spinks warned that many directors are still either unaware of the heavy penalties for software under-licensing or are choosing to ignore the problem.
"Companies still see this very much as a technology issue, but senior people do not understand that they are vulnerable to prosecution," he said.
His concerns are reiterated in the Fast study, which suggests that current legislation is having little impact on solving the problem.
Despite a 12 per cent increase in the number of cases being reported, it found that two thirds of companies do not believe they had achieved 100 per cent software compliance.
Richard Willmott, head of Fast Corporate Services, said the figures made alarming reading.
"Put simply, non-compliance is a criminal offence. Company directors are criminally liable. We simply cannot believe that nearly two thirds of companies we contacted have just not taken this issue seriously."
The Fast study also found that the number of companies with no written policies on software licences now stands at 24 per cent compared to 38 per cent in 2000.
"Awareness of the issue is rising, but the situation is actually getting worse because people are more aware of where they're falling down. I don't believe that staff set out to cause problems but companies still aren't translating awareness into action," Willmott said.
And although fines are common, Willmott admits that statistically speaking the chance of being prosecuted is slim.
But even the most well intentioned organisations can be caught out. Last year Hampshire Police Constabulary was prosecuted after being found in possession of £500,000 worth of pirated software.
Willmott urges companies to consider the potential cost savings as a business reason to sort out software compliance.
Yorkshire Electricity believes it has saved £500,000 in getting rid of software licences it no longer needs, gained faster network speeds and a reduction in helpdesk staff, after a software compliance programme found it needed to spend £90,000 on software licences.
"It's a difficult project to deliver but it can save you bundles of money," Willmott said.
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