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The two companies that are most often subject to software piracy in Britain, according to the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST), are Microsoft and Adobe.
The software that's most commonly installed without a license in the U.K. is Microsoft Office (24%) and Windows (24%), followed by Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator (16%) and Creative Suite (10%). Other commonly pirated programs include 3D design suite Solidworks and SQL, both at 6%, Quark and AutoCAD, both at 4%, Virtual DJ and Corel Draw, at 2%.
FAST is a non-profit organization of software publishers set up in 1984 to champion the professional management of legitimate software and protect publishers' intellectual property rights. This is the first time it has released information on its casework and enforcement activity.
FAST has been conducting research over the past year based on legal cases and reports collected by whistle-blowers in 2012. The findings represent all cases – those in progress, awaiting action and closed.
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Michala Wardell, head of anti-piracy at Microsoft U.K., noted that software piracy and efforts to illegally profit from pirated software have become increasingly sophisticated and that Microsoft has had to evolve its technology and tactics in order to protect its IP and its customers.
She also pointed out that businesses that use pirated software frequently run into a host of problems, such as identity theft and credit card fraud. They then have to spend many hours trying to reverse the impact the counterfeit software has had on their business. "We remind customers to play it safe, ask questions, investigate packaging, watch for too-good-to-be-true prices and demand genuine software to ensure business get what they pay for," Wardell said. For FAST general counsel Julian Heathcote Hobbins, the issue is less deliberate theft on the part of enterprises than just bad practice. "The corporate end user is often left in a vulnerable position being an automatic infringer and not party to support," he said. "There is a more general risk that if the copy is from an unauthorized Internet resource, the software may be incomplete or virus-contaminated."
Heathcote Hobbins pointed out that unlicensed software can also come in via the supplier route. "Unscrupulous computer system builders can dupe unsuspecting customers using their computer skills to install unlawful copies on computers," he warned. "[That means] the system builder gets paid but the brand owner does not."
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