04/10/2001

Countdown begins for illegal software users in NI

Watchdog group Business Software Alliance (BSA) is to hold the first ever software legalisation campaign in Northern Ireland.

Representing the world’s leading software manufacturers in a campaign to combat the high use of illegal software in businesses, BSA is to hold a 30-day unlicensed software “Countdown”.

During the period from October 10 to November 8, organisations in Northern Ireland will be able to take advantage of BSA audit tools to ensure that their software is licensed. Within this time, the BSA will not act on any information it may have suggesting that an organisation is using unlicensed software.

Software theft is a serious crime in the UK, and it is estimated that around one in four business software applications are being used without a licence. Software piracy costs the UK software industry £346 million in 2000, resulting in lost jobs, tax revenues and a potential barrier to innovation and production development.

Julian McMenamin, Chairman BSA Ireland, said: “The Countdown is a step which could save the future of many businesses. It is a chance for businesses to ensure that they are not at risk for the legal implications of software piracy. We understand that some of the illegal software in use is a result of poor systems management rather than deliberate theft. We decided to run the Countdown to draw attention to the free advice and practical assistance that are on offer from the BSA.

“We are aiming to save those who are willingly or unwillingly contributing to the software piracy problem and to prevent others making the same mistake. The damage to an organisation using software unlawfully can be huge, with defence or settlement of legal cases costing over £100,000. BSA strongly encourages companies to become involved in the Countdown before future campaigns begin.”

The 30-Day Countdown is the first such programme introduced by the BSA that totally focuses on the software piracy problem in Northern Ireland. The programme is designed to educate and increase awareness amongst company directors of the dangers of using illegal software and to encourage companies to legalise their usage.

The BSA’s initiative in Northern Ireland was welcomed by Professor Fabian Monds, Chairman of the Information Age Initiative, who said: “This campaign, which highlights the risks associated with software piracy, is a valuable contribution to the broader work of the Information Age Initiative. Our aims are to encourage the growth of the ICT sector in Northern Ireland and increase the use of ICTs by all businesses here.

“Software piracy represents a threat to both. It must be tackled at all levels to stop those who jeopardise legitimate business success and threaten both new investment and job security.” (SP)

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