The cost to small businesses only represents the amount paid out as a direct result of BSA legal actions. The real cost is much higher as it includes legal costs as well as other indirect expenses, such as disruptions to business operations, and the impact to cash flow when having to make unplanned software purchases. For example, last year one UK SME paid £84,300 in damages for using copies of unlicensed design software. Businesses may also be putting themselves at greater risk of cyberattacks, as a study by BSA and IDC found a direct correlation between unlicensed software and malware
This upward trend is also reflected in the number of leads BSA has received year-on-year from whistleblowers, often disgruntled employees, which has increased from 290 in 2015 to 335 in 2016. Research
carried out by BSA in 2016 found that over a third of workers state that they would report their employer for illegal or unethical IT practices, such as using or downloading unlicensed or counterfeit software.
To help prevent this, BSA educated small businesses on the risks of using unlicensed software through an awareness campaign, which targeted small businesses in the Greater London area – the highest region for settlements and legalisations – prompting them to check the status of their software licenses. It also gave them free tools and advice on how to manage their software inventory.
Sarah Coombes, Managing Director, BSA EMEA said: “It’s concerning to see that unlicensed software is still costing small businesses hundreds of thousands of pounds every year. Despite the rate of unlicensed software in the UK dropping, it’s clear some businesses are continuing to ignore copyright law, leading to greater settlements and legalisation costs.