17/10/2002

NI businesses urged to audit IT systems

The Business Software Alliance (BSA), a watchdog group representing market-leading software manufacturers, are urging all businesses in Northern Ireland to conduct regular reviews of their software use to ensure that they are fully compliant and not in danger of incurring fines or penalties.

BSA warn that illegal software use is a serious problem in the UK with one-in-four business software applications being used today without a license. This high rate of piracy cost the UK software industry £290 million in 2001 in lost jobs, wages, tax revenues and a potential barrier to innovation and product development.

BSA acknowledges that software usage can be difficult to track, but warns that there are severe penalties for those businesses caught using software illegally.

The law provides penalties that can result in unlimited fines, or even prison sentences of up to two years for company owners and directors who knowingly use illegal software. Companies also face a civil claim for damages and injunctions stopping further use of unlicensed software.

To assist companies, BSA is launching its Software Audit Return Initiative in Northern Ireland for the first time. The programme seeks to assist businesses in checking and clarifying their business software usage.

Companies are being asked to complete a Software Audit Return form, which will in turn provide companies with valuable information about their software use. Those businesses that can demonstrate good licensing practice will be issued with a BSA Certificate of Recognition.

Julian McMenamin, Chairman BSA Ireland, said: “We understand how easy it can be to let software management slip. Therefore, we are offering company directors advice on how to minimise the risk that this problem poses to their businesses. Participating in the Software Audit Return initiative is a step that could save the future of many businesses.”

(GMcG)

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