The BSA Compliance Gap Survey released in June 2014 and covering the previous year, 2013, has shown that Romania continues on the path of decreasing the rate of unlicensed software use; compared to 2007, when the software piracy rate was 68%, in 2013 we are looking at a rate of unlicensed software use of 62%, with a 6 percentage points drop. On the other hand, the value of the unlicensed software in use has increased, indicating a growth of the overall market. In 2013, the commercial value of the unlicensed software amounted to USD 208 million, while in 2007, amounted to USD 151 million.
The users that willingly or, sometimes, even not-knowingly, go for unlicensed or counterfeit software are exposed to various risks. First of all, they often do not benefit from the full features of the software, coming from updates, upgrades and support that the producer ormally offers to a legitimate user.
Counterfeit software may be accompanied by malware or malware may be easily downloaded after the PC with an unauthorized software copy enters online; recent studies note that this is likely to happen in one third of the cases where unlicensed software is used. In addition, the use of software that is not duly licensed may result in legal liability – both criminal and civil. This can result also in financial consequences – damages, fines –, and reputational consequences – the company may be exposed to public criticism and / or have difficulties in dealing with partners and stakeholders because of the law incompliance.
For any company that wants to be sure that it is in full compliance, there are steps that could be taken and implemented by the management, the IT department / people and even by Human Resources.
First of all, there is a need for clarity as regards the software used and the licenses held, which can be achieved by regularly auditing the IT resources; based on the findings of such audit, measures may be taken and implemented – aiming both at licensing the software in use and at controlling the digital content brought in or downloaded by the employees and that could expose the company. From technical measures to internal regulations and policy, this can also be addressed in the company.