Using unlicensed software is expensive, BSA finds

Small and medium sized businesses in the UK had to shell out more than £900,000 last year, because they used unlicensed software. This is according to a new report from BSA | The Software Alliance.

According to the report, the bulk of that sum went on legislation costs and damages for copyright infringement. The figures are quite interesting. The total cost to SMEs jumped, from £770,192 two years ago, to £914,587 today. However, the rate of unlicensed software in the country is down two per cent – to 22 per cent, compared to 2014. 

Sales and distributions are considered ‘worst offenders’ followed by engineering, architectural design and manufacturing. The costs that come as a result of BSA legal actions are just a fraction, the report says. The real cost is even higher, as businesses need to pay legal costs, cover for business operation disruptions and the impact of having to make unplanned purchases. 

Then, there’s also the everlasting problem of malware, as it was said to have a direct correlation with unlicensed software. 

What’s also interesting is that the leads mostly come from disgruntled employees. 

BSA has launched an awareness campaign, targeting businesses in Greater London, prompting them to check the status of their software licenses, and offering advice on how to manage software.

Sarah Coombes, Managing Director, BSA EMEA said: “It’s concerning to see that unlicensed software is still costing small businesses hundreds of thousands of pounds every year. Despite the rate of unlicensed software in the UK dropping, it’s clear some businesses are continuing to ignore copyright law, leading to greater settlements and legalisation costs.

“We encourage all businesses to ensure they have stringent software asset management (SAM) practices in place. Implementing even baseline SAM tools and processes, such as regular inventories and having a software use policy for employees, can have a huge benefit. Knowing what software you’re using and what you’re licensed to use could even lead to cost savings, by helping to identify over-licensed software. Anyone aware of a business using unlicensed software can send an anonymous report to BSA, or go on the record for a potential reward,” Coombes continued.

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