The Business Software Alliance (BSA) is targeting thousands of businesses it suspects may be using unlicensed software in Durban in the next three weeks as part of a targeted campaign to address the high rates of software piracy in South Africa. 

According to an IDC study, South Africa’s software piracy rate currently stands at 36%. This represents about R1,2-billion in losses to the country, including fines and missed economic opportunities.
Companies using unlicensed software are risking their data, their security and their reputation – not to mention the risk of being caught leading to substantial fines. In 2006 one South African business faced fines of over R945 000.00. As part of the agreement made with the BSA it then also had purchase of legal versions of the software it needed to operate.
Downloading illegal software from an unknown source via a P2P network site or auction site seller puts a business at high risk from viruses and spyware, which can lead to hardware failure, data loss and security breaches.
“Businesses need to closely inspect their software assets as being caught using illegal software could mean paying a significant fine,” says Stephan le Roux, BSA chairman. “The BSA message is legalise before it’s too late.
“In our experience, software piracy is rampant in South Africa and found across all business sectors, including financial services, technology and manufacturing companies, and this is having an impact on their efficiency and data security and ultimately on our economy," he adds.
BSA has launched the enforcement campaign, by delivering letters requesting companies conduct an immediate software audit to more than 2 500 businesses suspected of using illegal software.
The national campaign, which kicked off in Johannesburg, also has a strong educational element, informing business leaders of the risks of non-compliance with software licensing and IP copyright legislation.
BSA ‘scan-van’ branded vehicles will tour Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban over the next month, handing out educational brochures and delivering software audit requests.