The Business Software Association of Australia has set its sights on more than two dozen resellers and Internet operators selling or using pirated software, following the end of a 60 day amnesty on illegal systems.
Eighteen retailers and dealers and nine Internet companies were dobbed into the association during the 60 day truce period before failing to register for compliance. They are now subject to an investigation which could see the businesses charged under Federal law.
The number of dealers identified is "fairly alarming" according to BSAA chairman Jim Macnamara.
"It is a worrying figure," he told ARN. "Selling illegal software is not just a civil defence, it is a criminal offence. So if the allegations against these businesses prove true, we will potentially be talking to the Federal Police."
More than 1100 businesses registered during the 60 day software truce. During that time, the association fielded thousands of calls on its hotline. Of the businesses reported to the hotline, 141 failed to make use of the truce, and will be investigated by the BSAA.
"When businesses were reported, we watched to see if they would register, so they have been identified as allegedly using pirated software. We will be investigating those companies and if evidence is found we will take legal action."
Macnamara acknowledged piracy in the channel has improved over the past couple of years, but the association will continue its campaign against those using or selling illegal software because of the disadvantages it presents to lawful dealers.
"It is important we support the channel because illegal dealers can undercut those who are legitimate operators. Often reports of illegal dealers come from other resellers and we have a responsibility to the channel to investigate complaints."
The association must also be wary of consumer who, often confused by OEM software arrangements, unwittingly dob in legitimate dealers. Macnamara said he was very pleased with the number of businesses which have provided compliance statements to the BSAA as a result of the software truce.
* The BSAA fielded 4357 hotline calls during the truce.
* calls average: 544 calls a week during the period.
* regular hotline calls average: 80-90 per week.
* 141 businesses reported failed to register during the amnesty.