Pirated software costs firms £16 million

Pirated software is costing businesses as much as 16 million a year, according to the Business Software Alliance, suggesting that the shady cheaper alternatives have hidden unfortunate and embarrassing costs.

The BSA took 294 legal actions on behalf of its members in the UK. It said that more than 3,000 legal actions were conducted in 2008 across Europe and Africa, as a result of 5,546 leads. On average, 460 businesses are reported to the BSA a month. Across EMEA, almost 6 million worth of damages was paid out in 2008, while 10 million was spent on legal costs and software replacement.

Julian Swan, the BSA director of compliance marketing for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: "The figures demonstrate the severity of the software piracy issue in the UK, which remains at an unacceptable level."

Swan added: "We urge companies to recognise the dangers of using illegal software, and warn those deliberately flouting the law that we will be ramping up our enforcement operations in the months ahead. Aside from the financial consequences, using unlicensed software carries a number of operational risks, such as vulnerability to viruses which cause downtime, security threats and data loss, as well as damage to reputation if caught."

"Companies using legal software on the other hand benefit from vendor support, services and upgrades, which help businesses run as securely and efficiently as possible," he said.

Sarah Coombes, the BSA senior director for legal affairs, said: "In an effort to crack down on piracy, we will continue our worldwide effort to identify companies which flout the IPR laws. In uncertain economic times businesses should protect their assets, rather than use the unstable market as an excuse to cut corners."