BSA catches out digital agency on unlicensed software

An East Yorkshire digital marketing agency has agreed to pay £6,500 in damages to the Business Software Alliance (BSA) after being found using unlicensed software.

The Beverley-based Web Marketplace Solutions has also spent a further £4,500 on new software licenses to make its organisation fully software licence compliant. The company lists a number of big names as past or present clients on its website, including Littlewoods, Kays, Next Directory, Great Universal, Web Ivory, Marshall Ward and Past Times.

The case came about following a "complaint" received by the BSA, which led to the company conducting a self-audit, which revealed the use of unlicensed software, although details of the software at issue have not been disclosed.

It is not clear whether the complaint was from a software supplier or a tip-off from a current or ex-employee of the company. The BSA acknowledged that a number of its investigations stem from calls made by disgruntled staff, and informants are paid up to £20,000 for information.

The BSA says the Yorkshire region was recently the subject of a software compliance trawl, with 1,500 businesses in the area asked to prove they had sufficient licences for their software. A similar campaign is currently being implemented in Reading, where over 1,000 businesses have been contacted.

Philippe Brière, chair of the BSA UK Committee, said: "Companies such as Web Marketplace Solutions rely on a sound reputation, and settlements such as this one can seriously damage the company’s standing and are costly. What’s more, the use of unlicensed software exposes businesses to significant security risks.”

The BSA’s recent Global Software Piracy Study estimated that in 2011 the UK had a software piracy rate of 26 percent, with the commercial value of this piracy put at £1.2 billion.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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