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Practice hit with £33,000 software piracy fine

Belfast-based Coogan & Co has been hit by the latest clampdown on unlicensed software

The studio has coughed up over £33,000 in licensing costs and damages after piracy watchdog Business Software Alliance (BSA) found it had used Microsoft, Autodesk and Adobe products illegally.

According to an IT expert, the use of illegal software is now ‘rife’ among architects. He described the current situation, in which he estimates that 90 per cent of software currently used by architects to be illegal, as ‘awful’. Anthony Hoete, director of WHAT_architecture, agreed that there had been more software piracy during the downturn. He said: ‘There’s a recession and the chance of using illicit software is on the rise. It’s a sad case.’

BSA’s UK committee chair Philippe Briere warned that ‘enforcement action will be taken against any company found using unlicensed software’, explaining that the recent case highlighted the penalties faced by practices.

The latest news did not surprise Studio Klaschka director Robert Klaschka, who chairs the Bentley User Community. He said: ‘Given the hard times we face, some companies will be tempted to use cracked software.’

However, a small practitioner speaking off the record said illegal software usage was ‘much harder’ now due to pass keys and USB dongles.

He said: ‘10 to 15 years ago it was rampant. I recall copies of Adobe Photoshop 5 being handed out like biscuits.’

The BSA offers a £10,000 reward for anyone offering information about software crime leading to an enforcement case.

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