Victorian businesses have led the nation with the highest rate of illegal software usage in 2014.
For the second year running, the Garden State recorded the most settlements, with almost three-quarters of cases settled originating in the state.
This is a significant increase from 2013 with Victoria and New South Wales registering 39 per cent and 38 per cent of settlements respectively.
That's according to BSA | The Software Alliance, an advocate for the global software industry, which actioned 12 cases where illegal software with an estimated value of $825,000 was found.
Each business caught using unlicensed software was required to purchase genuine software licenses for its ongoing use, in addition to paying the copyright infringement damages penalty.
The architectural/design industry accounted for nearly one-third of settlements (27 per cent), with the engineering sector following closely at 20 per cent.
The remaining settlements were spread across a variety of industries including manufacturing, real estate, IT, recruitment and sales/distribution.
In 2014, the BSA’s Global Software Study revealed that computer users cited the risk of security threats from malware as the top reason not to use unlicensed software.
With the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network recently disclosing that Australians were reporting over 500 cybercrimes every week, the BSA is now calling on businesses to ensure their software is properly licensed as a key step towards protecting their intellectual property and business processes.
BSA senior director, compliance programs, Asia-Pacific, Roland Chan, said the results proved that illegal software use remained a challenge in industries across the country.
"But they also show that Australians are prepared to take action in reporting these infringements,” he said.
“Our recent Global Software Survey showed that less than half of IT Managers said they were confident that their company’s software was properly licensed.
“With reports of cybercrime rising in Australia, it’s now more important than ever for businesses to ensure they have a formal policy on licensed software use to ensure the best possible security.”
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“In 2015, the BSA will continue to work hard on educating businesses on the benefits of a sound Software Asset Management programme, helping them to avoid legal and security risks, and ensure they have the right number of licenses for their users.”