Two thirds of UK office workers would keep their lips buttoned over the use of illegal software in the workplace, according to the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST).
The organisation questioned 200 office workers to test their attitudes towards software piracy and whistleblowing, and the results revealed that 66 per cent would not report the use of illegal software, whereas 34 per cent would.
Of those who said they would not, 36 per cent said they wouldn’t report it to protect their jobs, 16 per cent to protect their reputations and 30 per cent were brutally honest and said they didn’t care. A further 14 per cent said concerns about negative media coverage on whistleblowers was a reason to stay silent.
However, on the plus side for FAST, 63 per cent said they were concerned about the damaging effects of software theft on the economy, and 52 per cent of businesses questioned have a formal policy in place on the illegal use of software in the workplace. Alex Hilton, chief executive of FAST, said: “While it is encouraging that two thirds of respondents are concerned about the damaging effects of software theft to the UK economy, the good news stops there.
“The majority of staff seem to be of the opinion that software theft in the workplace simply isn’t their problem. Looking at the reasons why someone wouldn’t report it, self-preservation seems to be the order of the day, with staff fearing for their jobs and their reputations. It is also interesting to note the impact that high-profile whistleblowing cases have had on employee willingness to report software theft, with one in seven citing this as a reason for not blowing the whistle.
“Such concerns, however, are misguided. Indeed, not blowing the whistle may be counterintuitive. You are protected as a whistle-blower by law if you are a ‘worker’, and serious compensation can be payable if your employer acts illegally when a protected disclosure is made.
“Both employers and employees need to ensure that they are properly educated about the lawful use of software and the repercussions that illicit software use can bring. Failure to do so may mean a company paying twice; for licences plus damages for illegal historic use. Knowledge of a director of unlicensed software used by the business could incur criminal liability for the business.”
Julian Heathcote Hobbins, general counsel at FAST, added: “What is revealed by this research is a pretty depressing picture not only for the software industry but also many other content-driven sectors such as music, film and games, vital to contributing to our economic success for the future.
“Workers are seemingly unaware of their rights when it comes to doing the right thing. You are protected. If you believe that software is being used in the workplace, and in particular, with the knowledge of a director, then get in touch with FAST.”
FULL DISCLOSURE: ILLICIT SOFTWARE FACTS (source: FAST)
To be protected as a whistle-blower you need to make a "qualifying disclosure". This could be a disclosure about:
• criminal offences
• failure to comply with a legal obligation
• miscarriages of justice
• threats to an individual’s health and safety
• damage to the environment
• a deliberate attempt to cover up any of the above
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