At the end of March, the battle commences against dealers selling illlegally copied software when the Business Software Alliance (BSA) kicks off its Cleaner Dealer Campaign.
Following its success in Germany, the anti-piracy organisation is now focusing on the UK. It is spending #300,000 on a marketing campaign to educate customers and enforce copyright laws.
Mark Hassall, Microsoft's software theft programme manager, was aggressive. He said: 'So many resellers are getting away with blue murder. I have yet to meet a company in the UK who's not running the risk of software theft. Illegal hard-disk loading is of epidemic proportions.
We must take illegal dealers out of the picture because they are defrauding our customers and are unfair competition for legal dealers.' He estimated that 50 per cent of known software theft occurs in the channel.
The BSA is sending out a guide on software management to companies, and a booklet showing users how to spot illegal dealers. Over the next 12 months, it hopes to reduce UK software theft from 43 per cent to 25 per cent of sales. Informers who ring the crimeline (0800 510510) will be given #2,500 or 10 per cent of the settlement, whichever is the greater sum.
As a warning to others, companies that are caught will have their names published in press advertisements. The BSA is backed by Microsoft, and former Fast members Adobe and Novell among others.
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