A Microsoft survey reveals that most small businesses in the UK believe they have little or no chance of getting caught using illegal software.
Despite the fact that 97% of the businesses questioned said they were aware that licences were required for each piece of software owned, over 68% said they thought it was "not at all easy" to get caught for using illegal and counterfeit software.
Of the small businesses involved in the survey, 85% said they know that is illegal for software dealers to sell software which doesn't have a licence. Over 93% are aware that it is illegal to lend or give a copy of software for someone else to use. However, despite this high awareness level, and the implications of software theft, small businesses appear to be indifferent about being caught.
According to anti-piracy group the British Software Alliance (BSA), one in three software packages in use in the UK is either counterfeit or being used illegally and it is estimated the UK software industry will lose around #100 million this year to software piracy within small businesses.
Given the anticipated growth of this sector of the UK economy, Microsoft said these figures will be closer to #125 million next year.
David Gregory, anti-piracy manager at Microsoft commented: "Where the industry fails is where people don't believe they will ever get caught, let alone be fined, or in the worst cases sent to prison. So they copy or purchase illegal software, confident in the knowledge they will get away with it."
Gregory warned, however, that many small businesses are unaware that illegally copied or counterfeit software is more likely to contain viruses and there is a high risk losing valuable work if they use it.
So far this year, Microsoft has seized over 5,000 illegally copied or counterfeited Microsoft programmes and CD-ROMs worth over half a million pounds. "We suspect that this is only the very tip of the iceberg," said Gregory.
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