British firms using illegal software could be raided more frequently if lobbying from a software group pays off. The Business Software Alliance (BSA), which represents eight of the world’s largest software houses, is pressing the Government to grant easier access to premises where pirated software is in use.
‘We need these search orders to secure evidence,’ said Emilia Knight, managing director of BSA Europe, who is spearheading its Crackdown ’97 campaign. ‘But it takes time and an enormous amount of money about £50,000.’
The BSA is also urging staff to blow the whistle on employers using illegally copied software.
‘We have a hotline where people are asked to report any knowledge of software theft,’ said Knight. ‘We will take action when we get information that something is going wrong.’ It is already pursuing cases through the US courts.
The BSA claims that more than a third of software used in British firms is created by illegal copying.
‘You can understand if a child copies software for a game,’ said Knight. ‘But if you’re using it to make money, then it’s stealing. It’s not all right to steal cars or books, and it isn’t all right to steal software either.’
Manufacturing and engineering are suspect as they copy expensive design and production software which is highly specialised, instead of buying it under licence.
The BSA claims that $350m (£218m) is lost annually in Europe through software theft.