Project Options Ltd, a West Sussex-based engineering design company, has settled with BSA | The Software Alliance for the use of unlicensed software. In addition to paying of £16,000 by way of a settlement, the company also had to purchase new software licences to the value of approximately £17,500.
The case came to BSA’s attention following receipt of a confidential online report through its website. After a request to conduct a self-audit, Project Options Ltd worked cooperatively with BSA, revealing that unlicensed Autodesk software was being used within the organisation.
Paul Daly, Director at Project Options Ltd, says: ‘Before the BSA investigation we never prioritised software licensing in the business; however this is where our troubles started. In addition to discovering that we were using unlicensed software, we also discovered some contractors had downloaded and used unlicensed software. Being a company that is highly dependent on our own intellectual property to survive we realise that ultimately the buck stops with us and we’ve had to deal with the consequences.’
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Daly continues: ‘However, since agreeing a settlement with BSA, we have purchased the correct licences for all the relevant software and have also moved to a subscription based model in the Autodesk cloud to ensure this doesn’t happen again. The good news is that moving to the cloud has benefited the business in other ways as we can access our software from any device, at any time. I would urge all small business owners to review their software licensing on a regular basis, or they could face unplanned costs like we have.’
Alyna Cope, Chair of the BSA UK Committee, says: ‘It’s not unusual for companies to fall into these licensing potholes by not prioritising software as a valuable asset within the business. As Project Options has found out, unplanned costs like these can be hugely detrimental to a small business.’
Cope continues: ‘Unlicensed software use can never be justified, however taking a helpful approach to becoming compliant has resolved the issue quickly and allowed Project Options to resume business as usual. To avoid this situation in the first place, companies need to ensure they have the relevant Software Asset Management (SAM) practices in place. These allow organisations to control and manage their software licences and can save money for companies of all sizes. Alternatively, as Project Options has done it’s advisable to move to a subscription model in the cloud to avoid this situation all together.’
The BSA’s Global Software Piracy Study found that in 2011 the UK had a software piracy rate of 26% – meaning more than one in four software installations were unlicensed. The commercial value of this piracy was £1.2 billion.
The BSA encourages reports of suspected software piracy, regarding businesses using unlicensed software, or individuals and organisations selling illegal software over the internet. Confidential reports can be made at www.bsa.org, which also provides guidance and resources that can help ensure that a company is operating efficiently and legally.