SMEs caught using unlicensed computer software lost more than £900,000 as a result during 2016, according to a new report.
Figures from The Software Alliance (BSA) found that small- and medium-sized businesses in the UK paid out £914,587 over the course of the year.
This total includes amounts paid in damages and fees, as well as the cost of buying legitimate software. Costs to individual businesses amounted to as much as £81,000.
The overall sum rose by 19 per cent from £770,192 in 2015, Computer Weekly reported.
Sales and distribution firms were found to be the worst culprits, followed by those in the engineering, architecture and design and manufacturing industries.
“It’s concerning to see that unlicensed software is still costing small businesses hundreds of thousands of pounds every year,” said BSA EMEA managing director Sarah Coombes.
“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.
“We encourage all businesses to ensure they have stringent software asset management practices in place. Implementing even baseline SAM tools and processes, such as regular inventories and having a software use policy for employees, can have a huge benefit.”
The organisation encouraged anyone aware of a business using unlicensed software to report it so it could take action on behalf of its members.
European members of the BSA include large technology companies like Adobe, Apple, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Siemens, Symantec and Trend Micro.
The organisation’s recent research has shown that software contributes nearly £710 billion to the European Union’s economy and supports 11.6 million jobs in the region.
In 2015, the BSA estimated that 39 per cent of the software installed on computers around the world was not properly licensed – down from 43 per cent in 2013.
For more information, see the BSA’s website.