Update: Technology: Software pirates unrepentant

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One in three of the computer programs being used in Britain is a counterfeit or illegal copy, according to a new report.

Microsoft, the software giant, commissioned a report examining how software theft was perceived by small businesses - and found that many firms thought they had little or no chance of being caught.

Of more than 500 small business computer users questioned, 97 per cent said they understood that each piece of software needed a licence. But 68 per cent thought it was "not at all easy" to be caught using software illegally. Microsoft is a key player in efforts to prevent illegal software use in Britain, working with organisations such as the Business Software Alliance to combat the problem - which costs it and other software companies as much as pounds 100m a year.

Microsoft had seized more than 5,000 illegal copies so far this year, Microsoft anti-piracy manager David Gregory said, adding: "We suspect that this is just the tip of the iceberg." More information is at http://www.microsoft.com/uk/legalware.