The Business Software Alliance (BSA) has begun its annual software audit campaign to cut software piracy - but companies won't face any legal threats if they ignore it.
The anti-piracy group is sending out 200,000 Software Audit Return forms, which ask companies to audit their licensing. But UK programme manager for the BSA, Mike Newton, admits it has no power to insist companies take part.
"It's a letter sent out to chief executives saying there is a global issue of computer piracy and they might be unwittingly contributing. We ask them to audit themselves and check whether it is an issue.
"If you want to share that information, that's great, but there is no pressure to send the questionnaire back," he said.
"We want chief executives to get their heads around this problem," he added. One in four pieces of software in the UK is being used illegally, according to the BSA.
Newton said that if a company wanted to return the survey, it would not be used in any legal action.
"Any company that completes the form is assured that information will not be used against them. If we started suing people that returned the form no-one would cooperate."
Newton explained: "If we've had specific information, once we've vetted that, we send a solicitor's letter which says we have reason to believe that you are using illegal software and we want you to do an audit."
"Around 1000 businesses a year receive one of these letters," he said.
Newton said the dealer community is an important source of help for smaller companies in legalising their software.
"Many times a dealer will spend a day with a company to help them get their licensing under control. We see dealers as people who can help companies keep their software assets under control," he said.
"Dealers will also make us aware of counterfeiting situations where software is being offered too cheaply. But we don't look to them to give us leads on their customers," he added.
Last year the UK software industry lost £346m through piracy.
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