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BSA names travel firm caught using unlicensed software

Head stuck on city gates

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A travel agent in Glasgow has become the latest company to be named and shamed as part of the Business Software Alliance’s recent blitz against unlicensed software use.

According to the BSA, Barrhead Travel Services Ltd has agreed to pay £10,000 ($16,000) in settlement fees and licensing costs for being caught without enough legal paper to cover its use of Adobe software. Despite being willing to name the company publically, the BSA declined to state how the infringement came to light.

Controversially, the organisation encourages insiders to inform on their employers, and even offers financial inducements to help this process along. The firm had co-operated with the investigation, the BSA added.

Adobe is one of the better known closed source brands behind the BSA, along with Apple, Symantec and Microsoft. It’s also a company with a woeful record on software security for products such as its PDF Reader and Flash video plug-in, a situation for which millions of consumers and companies get no compensation if vulnerabilities lead to a hypothetical security breach.

It’s this imbalance of power between licence holders and software consumers that makes the BSA and the companies it represents unpopular in some quarters and helps drive the gradual uptake of free and open source software.

It also has a tendency to use the terms ‘piracy’ and ‘licence evasion’ as synonyms, which they aren’t. Pirates set out to steal and copy software, while evaders do the same but usually unintentionally.


“Businesses must be aware that enforcement action will be taken against any company found using unlicensed software.  The financial penalties could far exceed the initial outlay of buying licensed software, a burden businesses can ill-afford to bear in the current economic climate,” said BSA UK Committee chair, Michala Wardell.

The BSA is zealous in its pursuit license infringements, even recently naming an entire UK city, Birmingham, as a piracy hotspot. In September, it announced that it had uncovered a 1,000 companies around the UK and Europe which were guilty of licence evasion.


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