The Business Software Alliance secured nearly $600,000 in settlements for illegal software use in Australia last year.
The industry group received 1900 calls related to software piracy during 2007, and settled 14 cases to a total value of $560,000. The organisation claims local piracy rates have fallen slightly, and dropped from 31 per cent to 29 per cent between 2005 and 2007.
The worst offenders were in the telecommunications and IT software sectors, although creative and design, education and health sectors also came under the spotlight, BSA spokesperson, Danika Bakalich, said.
Software vendors most often affected by piracy included Adobe, Autodesk, Symantec, Apple, Microsoft, Trend Micro and McAfee.
The BSA is planning another tough year on piracy and will run a number of education and awareness campaigns targeting members within a number of verticals, as well as CIOs and financial managers.
It also recently conducted research with analyst group, IDC, which claims a reduction in corporate software piracy could trigger significant economic growth.
According to their findings, reducing software piracy by 10 per cent in Australia over the next four years could generate 3900 jobs, $2.1 billion in economic growth, and $485 million in tax revenues.
The BSA is also collaborating with three Sydney universities to come up with new marketing campaigns as part of the student curriculum. Bakalich said the initiative would help students become more aware of organisations' software responsibilities as they move into the workforce.
He said repeat software piracy offenders were very rare, with just one high-level case to her memory.
"There are only a handful of extraordinary flagrant or deliberate breaches. Most organisations were horrified to discover they were using illegal software and keen to clean up," Bakalich said.
"The organisations most at risk are those that have grown rapidly, and whose auditing of software can be overlooked amongst the growth."