The Software Alliance (BSA) is an advocacy body that represents the global software industry with members including Adobe, Microsoft, Oracle and Apple. In 2017, the Alliance settled over $AU347,000 worth in damages across 28 cases for the use of unlicensed software from businesses around Australia.
The largest settlement involved a Western Australia-based energy company which was found to be using unlicensed software and settled for over AU$40,000. Each business caught using unlicensed software was required to purchase genuine software licenses for its ongoing use, in addition to paying the copyright infringement damages.
As well as "helping" businesses to ensure they use properly licensed software they are also reminding businesses of the security risks that come from using software that may have come from unofficial sources, given the Australian Government’s new Notifiable Data Breach (NDB) laws.
This reminder comes as the BSA announces the results from 2017, in which a record number of cases of unlicensed software use were settled.
Gary Gan, Director of Compliance Programs, BSA APAC, said: “Businesses need to remember that unlicensed software, or software downloaded from an unknown source, may contain malware which puts an organisation and its customers at significant risk of becoming the victim of a data breach. And without properly licensed software, organisations don’t receive patch updates which strengthen the software’s security and address vulnerabilities, which otherwise would leave the business exposed".
The BSA is continuing to offer a reward of up to $AU20,000 to eligible recipients who dob in anyone they know is engaged in the use or unlawful copying BSA members’ software.
To be fair, the software industry has gone some way to making it easier to access licensed software, While some see subscription services as a pain, they do make it easier for businesses, particularly those that don't have thousands of dollars available for capital purchases, to pay for software as they use it.
But, on the other hand, life is still challenging as licensing agreements are notoriously difficult to understand and systems that can manage licensing in large, complex environments are expensive and can be hard to configure.