SME fined £24,000 after software 'whistleblower' squawks

Another UK business paid a hefty fine to the Business Software Alliance (BSA) police after being reported through the organisation’s controversial ‘whistleblowing’ scheme.

According to the BSA, North Wales-based System Labelling Ltd has paid “over £24,800”($38,300)  in fines and licensing fees to make legal its use of several Microsoft products, including Office. The Redmond company is a major backer of the BSA.

What lay behind the unlicensed software arising in the first place is not mentioned, but the key detail is that the BSA found out about the situation after being contacted by an insider. That insider would have been paid handsomely for the information.

The announcement is only the latest in a long line that the BSA has made a speciality of publicising. In December, London-based Quacquarelli Symonds Group was fined £80,000 after being found without licenses for Microsoft and Adobe products (the BSA’s other big backer), while a month earlier it was the turn of Glasgow travel firm, Barrhead Travel Services Ltd, to receive a £10,000 bill.

In September, the BSA said it had paid an informant £10,000 for telling the organisation about his company’s use of unlicensed software. Crime does pay, or at least as you’re the one willing to squawk.

“Unlicensed software use can occur when a company’s management regard software licensing only as an IT problem, not recognising that failure to manage their software as a business asset could expose their company to legal redress and operational failure,” said the BSA’s compliance marketing head, Julian Swan.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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