RealTime IT News

Software Pirates Walk the Plank

[Sydney, AUSTRALIA] A record number of multimedia and Web development companies are currently under investigation according to the Business Software of Australia Association (BSAA), an industry body formed to combat software theft and piracy in Australia. Legal proceedings and software audits are underway following a surge in reports to the BSAA hotline.

According to Jim Macnamara, the association's chairman, the BSAA hotline is receiving about 200 inquiries a month about software piracy, including a large number of Internet related piracy reports.

"The most recent research indicates Australia's rate of software piracy is 32 percent. No industry can be expected to stand idle while one-third of its output is stolen," he said.

"We are actively pursuing organizations in a wide range of industry sectors, but at present we have turned our attention squarely upon Web developers, ISPs, graphic designers and multimedia groups."

Most recently the BSAA has settled with multimedia firms based in NSW and Queensland and filed a proof of debt claim for more than $100,000 with the liquidator of Catalyst Training Systems.

"We have received 30 reports about illegal software users in this market and close to 100 reports about Internet software piracy. Needless to say we currently have a number of those organizations under investigation," said Mr. Macnamara.

"We are focused on educating software users and providing assistance to organizations who want to get legal," said Mr. Macnamara. "However, as many organizations in the multimedia world have already discovered, we will not hesitate to commence litigation where there is strong evidence of unauthorized software use."

Infringement of copyright can lead to fines of up to $302,500 for a company and in the case of an individual, fines of up to $60,500 and imprisonment for up to five years. Companies suspected of unauthorised software use face the risk of an Anton Piller order, which allows BSAA representatives to enter business premises and seize property in accordance with the order.