A travel company based in the north of England has been fined a six-figure sum for using unlicensed versions of Microsoft software, an amount negotiated by the Business Software Alliance (BSA).
The BSA has taken further enforcement action against three other companies - debt recovery firm Philips Collection Services, packaging company Procurasell and online marketing group Webevents - all due to the use of unlicensed software.
"All these cases, but in particular one, illustrate the consequences of running unlicensed software to cut costs - clearly a false economy," said Najeeb Khan, BSA country committee vice chairman.
"Not only do the settlements take significant chunks out of the companies' profit margins, they send negative messages to staff and customers that these firms are willing to resort to unscrupulous measures to save money."
The BSA is a non-profit trade association that acts to protect software providers' intellectual property rights and enforce software copyright legislation.
The organisation argues that software piracy creates unfair competition for legitimate companies, and exposes customers to a wide range of IT risks including security breaches and data loss.
The fined travel company was using unlicensed editions of SQL Server and the corresponding SQL CALs, Visio, Project, Office and Windows Server.
As well as paying the penalty charge, the company will have to purchase legal versions of the software, resulting in an additional cost of more than £100,000.
Both Procurasell and Webevents have also been fined tens of thousands of pounds for using unlicensed versions of Adobe and Microsoft software, but the BSA cannot disclose the exact amount in each case.
The filing against Philips Collection Services is still in the application stage. The firm used unlicensed copies of Microsoft and Adobe software on around 100 PCs. The BSA sent a software audit request to the company in June 2007 but it failed to respond and this led to the BSA pursuing the case in court.
"We hope these cases serve as an example to businesses that the BSA will continue to reinforce the importance of managing their software," said Khan.
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