The Federation Against Software Theft (The Federation) has vowed to crack down harder on illegal software use after a recent survey revealed that 47 per cent of corporate UK believed piracy was on the rise.
The Federation, whose 160 members include resellers, distributors and consultancy firms, will take part in police raids on suspect premises and use its knowledge of illegal activities to feed information to the police.
The Federation's survey tallies with the last year's global piracy report from IDC, which showed that illegal software use in Britain had increased by one per cent to 26 per cent.
IDC has claimed that reducing piracy by 10 per cent could create 40,000 new jobs.
Justin Heathcote-Hobbins, senior legal counsel at The Federation, said: "It seems some firms are getting blase about illegal software and think they are never going to get caught.
"These few companies need to be reminded that they are at risk not only of heavy fines, but of imprisonment if they are not properly licensed."
Heathcote-Hobbins said there would always be 'bad apples' that deliberately flout the law, and these are the firms The Federation will be targeting.
However, Bob Tarzey, service director at analyst firm Quocirca, said The Federation would have to make sure it penalised the right firms.
"The onus is always on the end-users to ensure that their licences are up to date. Licences are in place for a reason and we have to comply with them, but there is often a lot of greyness in this area," he said.
"The Federation will have to be careful to distinguish the real criminals from firms that fall victim to the accidental overuse of licensed software."
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