The Business Software Association of Australia (BSAA) has a dire warning for enterprise users in Australia. License your software, or spend a whole lot of time and money in court explaining why.
Changes to Australian legislation surrounding copyright material and software, enforced from January this year, now states that making and using illegal copies of software for commercial advantage is a criminal offence, carrying the appropriate fines and possible jail time.
Previously the copyright law stated creating illegal copies of software was a criminal offence only if the copy was sold to another party.
Now users can be penalized for just owning and using it.
BSAA chairman Jim Macnamara said enterprises should treat software as an asset and ensure there are no copyright breaches.
Macnamara said using software asset management is a process that will not only make it easier to locate possible copyright infringements, but also ease the process of keeping software licences current and, ultimately, drive lower support costs.
"Even Gartner has found enterprises which do not have strict software management in place suffer higher support costs, as well as more network problems," he said.
"By maintaining records, enterprises can negotiate volume discounts and rein in support costs; there should also be appropriate audits."
McNamara said the legislative change in Australia, which has made downloads for commercial advantage or profit a criminal offence not just a civil one, was driven by the US Free Trade Agreement.
"The FTA agreement has bought Australian legislation into line with Europe and the US, this makes it a very serious matter for management," he said.
"This makes software asset management an imperative, not just desirable."
The BSAA has launched an awareness campaign into the criminalization of end-user piracy and is offering free tools and seminars on its Web site, www.bsaa.com.au