From Fines to Imprisonment: What Are the Effects of Computer Piracy? | FAST

From Fines to Imprisonment: What Are the Effects of Computer Piracy?

Your managing director and senior members of staff will have a lot of responsibility. They are extremely busy and leaders can sometimes become pre-occupied in other actions and forget about software licensing. Alternatively, they may be unaware of how important this is and not know the consequences of not having the right licences in place.

So, if you really want to grab their attention, educate them, and ensure your employer stays compliant, you may want to show them the information below.

Why is Software Licensing Important?

Software licensing sets out the terms and conditions of a software program and stipulates what can and can’t be done with it. In short, this document will tell you what you can ‘get away with’ and how ignoring terms or installing software on multiple computers when a licence is for a single-user only can land you in hot water.

Read and abide by these rules when installing software in order to avoid infringing the owners’ copyright and to stay on the right side of the law. 

What Are the Consequences of Not Having the Correct Licence?

One in four pieces of software used in the UK is unlicensed and according to a survey of 1,000 users conducted by ICM Research for the Business Software Alliance (BSA), over half of employees believe that using unlicensed software on their PCs is one of the least risky activities they could do.

However, if a company is proven in criminal court as not having the correct software licensing, there are numerous, serious repercussions.

An Unlimited Fine – Fines for unlicensed software can hit astronomical figures. If found guilty, a company can be fined a value of the court’s choosing. There is no limit to this amount; however it should be proportionate to the crime. In 2007, one company was reportedly fined £250,000 for using unlicensed software. Could your business survive a fine like that? One of the consequences of software piracy due to fines is the bankruptcy of the business. It isn't a risk worth taking.

Imprisonment -  Software piracy is a serious offence and can lead to responsible staff (such as Managing Directors) to be imprisoned if found guilty of the crime. This is one aspect that is often forgotten under piracy UK law.

Exposure to Cyber Attack – In a global software survey, titled ‘Unlicensed Software and Cybersecurity Threats’, a link between unlicensed software and malware on PCs was confirmed. The higher the unlicensed PC software rate in a country, the more malware that is encountered there. This is an effect of software piracy outside of the realms of law; software piracy leaves businesses with little to no security fail safes.

Therefore, it can be assumed, not having the correct licence puts an organisation at risk of cyber-attack and its costly repercussions.

How to Avoid Software Piracy

Do you and your boss know if you have more licences than you need, the terms of your agreements, how often each licence is used and whether you have a software licence management strategy in place or not? If you answered no to any of these, it may be time to consider your licensing.

Alternatively, if you have warned your boss and little has been done, you may now be in the position to report them. Report the use of unlicensed software anonymously to the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) online today to put a halt to illegal software use. We promise to protect your details unless they are required in a legal proceeding and you may be owed a compensatory reward.