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More Workers Blowing The Whistle On Unlicensed Software Use

New BSA campaign offers SMEs tools and tips to avoid the risks of unlicensed software

London, UK — 24th June 2015 — More workers are blowing the whistle on unlicensed software use, according to new figures from BSA | The Software Alliance. The organisation saw a 50% increase in whistleblower reports between 2013 and 2014, with more employees prepared to hold their bosses to account. To help businesses avoid this situation, BSA is today launching its ‘Fact or Fiction’ campaign in London. The aim of the campaign is to make small and medium businesses aware of the risks of using unlicensed software, and to outline the benefits of keeping their software licensing in check.  

“The facts don’t lie – using unlicensed software is risky,” says Warren Weertman, Senior Counsel – EMEA, BSA | The Software Alliance. “Twenty-four percent of software used in the UK is without a licence.  And yet a recent study showed a clear correlation between unlicensed software use and malware, suggesting that many organisations are opening themselves up to cybersecurity risks. Plus, with more employees prepared to shop their bosses, the risk of paying damages for using unlicensed software is increasing too.”

Following a similar campaign carried out in Manchester earlier this year, BSA is contacting companies in London’s financial, professional service and creative industries and encouraging them to visit the BSA Company Index portal. In 2014, all of the companies in these sectors reached a financial settlement with the BSA because of unlicensed software use. As a result, BSA is reaching out to organisations in these industries to offer free tools and advice on software asset management via the campaign portal.

“Many organisations don’t use unlicensed software intentionally. They just aren’t aware of the risks and don’t know whether their software is properly licensed.” continues Weertman. “Furthermore, many companies don’t have appropriate software asset management tools and processes in place. Our Fact or Fiction campaign aims to help demystify the issue and provide the tools and knowledge to help companies establish their licensing position and avoid the legal and financial risks.”  

Just last year, engineering design company Project Options Ltd paid out £33,000 after being found to be unknowingly using unlicensed Autodesk software. Unexpected costs such as these can be disastrous for small businesses, so it is important organisations take the time to understand how they can better manage their software assets.    

Moreover, as many companies rely on software as a core asset enabling them to operate, innovate and be productive, those companies who are using unlicensed software are in fact gaining an unfair competitive advantage over peers who are compliant. Implementing even baseline Software Asset Management (SAM) tools and processes, such as regular inventories and licensing situation assessments, software use policy for employees and basic SAM roles and responsibilities assignment can give companies a holistic view of their software assets, lower their exposure to software vendors’ audits and reduce non-compliance risks.

BSA continues to encourage reports of unlicensed software, whether it is businesses using software without the correct license or individuals selling illegal software over the internet. Confidential reports can be submitted at www.bsa.org, where guidance and resources can also be found to help companies ensure they are operating within the law. In the UK BSA offers reward of up to £10,000 for reporting companies using unlicensed software use.


BSA | The Software Alliance (www.bsa.org) is the leading advocate for the global software industry before governments and in the international marketplace. Its members are among the world’s most innovative companies, creating software solutions that help businesses of all sizes in every part of the economy to modernize and grow.

With headquarters in Washington, DC, and operations in more than 30 countries, BSA pioneers compliance programs that promote legal software use and advocates for public policies that foster technology innovation and drive growth in the digital economy.


Michael O’Brien

For Media Inquiries

Email: media@bsa.org


Media Inquiries

Email: media@bsa.org


Christine Lynch


Media Inquiries

Email: media@bsa.org