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Company fined £80k for using unlicensed software

Made to buy 100 licenses for Office 2010

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The hawkish Business Software Alliance (BSA) has announced another scalp in its ongoing war against SMEs it discovers have been using unlicensed software.

The latest firm to be caught and publically humiliated is London-based education company Quacquarelli Symonds Group, which has agreed to pay £40,000 ($63,000) in ‘settlement’ fees to the BSA plus a further £40,000 in costs.

Included in that sum are the purchases of 100 copies of Microsoft Office 2010 plus an unspecified number of licenses for Adobe products. Judging from similar BSA cases in the past, Microsoft and Adobe are the most commonly abused software companies, or at least the ones that run up the biggest licensing fees.

“This case highlights the significant financial penalties that have to be paid if a business does not have correctly licensed software installed,” said BSA committee chair, Michala Wardell, repeating the line the organisation offers every time a culprit is named and shamed.

“Most businesses don’t intend to breach the terms of their software licenses, but through a combination of bad planning, inadequate IT policies or simply a lack of awareness, many end up doing so,” she added.

It’s never clear whether the companies caught were found to have been acting illegally or were simply poor managers of software licenses. The BSA never says and named companies never comment.

In October, Scottish travel firm Barrhead Travel Services had to pay £10,000 for using unlicensed software. Around the same time, the BSA branded Birmingham the piracy hotspot of the UK.


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