Software Licencing is important! Non-compliance with software licenses is illegal and carries with it the potential for hefty fines, civil court case damages and jail sentences.
A corporate Software Licensing Plan can be drafted to recognise the serious consequences of non-compliance and can be used to demonstrate compliance or identify measures to rectify any deficiencies in the software licensing agreements.
What is illegal ?
Software copyright infringement can occur through:
- Individual copying of programs (eg. from friends or colleagues)
- Corporate copying at work
- Hard-disk loading of illegal copies by unscrupulous dealers
- Internet downloading of illegal copies (eg. from pirate sites)
- Counterfeiting which is the production of illegal copies (eg. CDs).
Penalties for Non-Compliance
Under the Copyright Act, making illegal copies for sale is a criminal offence and offenders are liable for:
- Fines up to $93,500 and /or up to five years imprisonment for individuals
- Fines up to $467,500 and/or up to five years imprisonment for companies.
Making or using illegal copies of software for personal use or at work is a civil offence under the Copyright Act and offenders are liable for damages of an unlimited amount (determined by the Court) and court costs.
Under Corporate Law in Australia , directors of companies may be held liable for infringements under the Copyright Act even if they are not directly involved and can face personal legal action.
How Do People Get Caught ?
There are two main organisations that concern themselves with software piracy, the Business Software Association of Australia (BSAA) and the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA).
Both rely on individuals reporting non-compliant organisations and offer substantial rewards for information that leads to a successful conviction or civil court case.
In many cases these reports are made anonymously but typical individuals that might have a motive for making such a report include: disgruntled employees, unhappy customers, ex-employees or competitors.
Rewards for Reporting Non-Compliance
The BSAA offers informants $5,000 for reporting an unlicensed use of software where copyright infringement action is successfully taken.
The SIAA offers up to US$50,000 to informants who report verifiable cases of corporate end-user piracy.
For more information about software compliance or to discuss how we might be able to assist your organisation please contact us:
1300 30 82 30