Pirated Software Still an Issue in High-Tech

Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony upstart Vonage has confirmed an inquiry from the
Business Software Alliance (BSA) into alleged unauthorized use of software
products.

The New Jersey-based Vonage, which sells Internet telephone services to
enterprise and consumer clients, said it was conducting an internal
investigation but declined to provide details of the BSA inquiry.

According to reports, the watchdog group is investigating the alleged use
of pirated and unlicensed software at Vonage since January this year.
Vonage spokesperson Brooke Schulz told internetnews.com the company
was in the midst of conducting an internal audit and would report its
findings to the BSA.

If it is found in breach of licensing agreements, Vonage could face a
hefty BSA fine.

Schulz downplayed the seriousness of the BSA probe, noting that those
inquiries are a dime a dozen in corporate America.

Vonage is not the first East Coast technology firm that has found itself
under the BSA gun. Last week, the BSA announced that four New York area
companies agreed to pay a combined total of $222,000 to settle claims
relating to unlicensed copies of software programs installed on office
computers.

As part of the settlement, the four firms agreed to delete any unlicensed
copies, purchase replacement software and strengthen their software
management practices.

Among the firms were domain name registrar Register.com , which paid $62,500 to the BSA after an internal audit revealed
more copies of Adobe and Macromedia software programs on its office
computers than it had licenses to support.

Alfy, Inc., a Web portal for kids, paid $50,000 to settle a BSA claim
that it was using unlicensed copies of software from Microsoft, Macromedia
and Adobe. Bonland Industries and Covington Industries also settled.

The watchdog association claims New York has a piracy rate of 11.9
percent during 2001 for business software. When evaluating the impact to
the economy of New York, software piracy of all packaged software resulted
in a state tax loss of more than $101 million, the group said.

Worldwide members of the BSA include Microsoft , Adobe
, Apple , Borland ,
Macromedia and Symantec .

The BSA recently launched a grace period
program
in major U.S. cities to give businesses an opportunity to review
their software programs and acquire the licenses they need to get legal
without facing penalties for past infringement imposed by BSA.

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