The Business Software Alliance (BSA) found that the cost to businesses of software piracy was more than R2-million in 2008, with most piracy found in the ISP sector in the greater Johannesburg area. Of the 193 legal actions that the BSA took on behalf of its members, more than R130 000.00 was paid out in damages.
Alastair de Wet, chairman of the SA BSA committee, comments: "With over 193 legal actions alone in South Africa in one year, the size of the piracy issue is demonstrated in the country and the commitment to BSA to reduce illegal software use.
"However, it is not only the financial consequences that businesses must consider. Using unlicensed software opens businesses up to the risk of operational issues, such as viruses causing downtime, security threats, including data loss, and reputational damage.
"We urge companies to understand the risks of using pirated software, as well as the advantages of licensed versions. Legal software provides support, services and upgrades, which ensures your business runs securely and efficiently."
Across Europe, Middle East and Africa, because of BSA actions, the cost to businesses (damages and acquiring legal software) reached more than $23-million in 2008; of which just over $8-million was paid to the BSA in settlements and more than $15-million spent by companies on the purchase of business-critical software for compliance purposes.
More than 3 000 legal actions were conducted by BSA in 2008 across the EMEA region, as a result of 5 546 leads, which averages at over 460 businesses reported to BSA a month.
Sarah Coombes, BSA's senior director for legal affairs in Europe, Middle East and Africa, adds: "Breaching intellectual property rights (IPR) does not just impact the software publisher; the 2008 costs to businesses illustrate the serious financial consequences faced by companies who illegally use unlicensed software. In an effort to crack down on piracy, we will continue our worldwide effort to identify companies which flout the IPR laws. In uncertain economic times businesses should protect their assets, rather than use the unstable market as an excuse to skip corners."