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Practice probed by software piracy watchdog

Huddersfield-based architecture practice Above and Beyond is being investigated by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) for alleged computer software piracy.

The BSA a global watchdog which represents the largest software companies and regularly fines offenders, is understood to be looking into the use of illegal copies of AutoCAD, 3D Studio Max and Adobe Creative Suite Software.

The alliance suspects that 27 per cent of all software being used commercially in the UK is pirated, and this probe follows previous BSA legal actions against the Amos Partnership (sued for £6,500), Manser Associates (sued for £5,000) and Caroe + Partners.

Andrew Stoddart, the founder of Above and Beyond did not deny his firm was being investigated. He said: ‘Together with our IT management consultants, we are working to assist the BSA in its due-diligence process regarding software licensing.

‘Our IT providers have already implemented a number of process improvements to protect our IT systems.’

The BSA offers rewards of up to £10,000 to whistleblowers to try to clamp down on the copying and use of illegal software – a practice which Robert Klaschka, who is writing the RIBA’s good practice guidance on IT, described as ‘absolutely rife’.

Another architect working in a London practice, agreed that software piracy is widespread and said: ‘These packages can be expensive, especially for a start-up – around £100 a go for Autocad LT every year. Even we can’t afford the full-on package.’

Najeeb Khan, vice chair of the BSA UK member committee said: ‘Piracy is a major issue across almost all industries, and architecture is no different given the high value of software used by the profession. In fact, as a creative industry, architects should be acutely aware of the value of intellectual property – whether it be software code or a building design.

‘We spend large sums educating businesses in this country about software piracy, but unfortunately enforcement activity is necessary in certain cases.’

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