Clampdown on software pirates in Manchester

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The Independent Online

More than 5,000 firms will be targeted in a campaign launched tomorrow to stamp out computer software piracy, a problem that costs the UK nearly £1bn a year.

Trade association the Business Software Alliance (BSA) has sent letters to companies in Manchester, which is the country's second software piracy hotspot, behind London.

Julie Strawson, chair of the BSA's UK committee, said: "Software piracy has a devastating effect on the economy – the sector employs 40,000 people in the UK. We will be providing a suite of tools to enable the businesses to look at their software and audit whether or not they are legal [products]."

The campaign will last six weeks, giving businesses the opportunity to avoid closer scrutiny. The BSA, which represents the likes of Microsoft and Adobe, launches investigations into firms it suspects use pirated software. This can lead to civil action, and the BSA is currently looking at 11 firms in the Manchester area.

A BSA survey, published last week, showed that over a quarter of UK firms use pirated software.