The Business Software Alliance (BSA) has moved its campaign against unlicensed software into Northern England, hitting a York-based company with a £29,000 bill for using unlicensed software.

The BSA said it had reached agreement with business consultancy The Salamander Organization on the sum, which covers licenses and costs, after an anonymous tip-off on the firm’s use of software. The applications the firm was found to be using without license were not mentioned but in past cases BSA members Microsoft and Adobe have featured prominently.

“The abuse of intellectual property rights is a serious offence, and will not be accepted. Settlements such as this can seriously damage a company’s reputation if they are caught out and can be costly,” said BSA UK committee chair, Michala Wardell.

The BSA said it was now targeting Yorkshire where it planned to audit 1,500 companies. The organisation has previously targeted the city Birmingham, where it has studied the licensing at 1,000 companies after branding the city a hotspot of illegal software use.

Contacted companies will be asked to declare the software they are using from a list of BSA members using an online portal. The principle behind this approach is simple - woe betide anyone who can’t explain those answers if and when the software Witchifinder General decides to pay them a visit.

In the last two years, the BSA has put out a long list of press releases trumpeting its “agreements” with a string of companies. Earlier this year, it estimated the fines and fees in the UK amounted to £2.2 million in 2010. A major criticism of its activities is that it targets SMEs over larger organsiations that might bear a long-term grudge.

The Salamander Organization lists its achievements as including the Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2010 and 2004. It also claims to have made a “true paradigm shift” and, eccentrically for a company based in Yorkshire, spells its name with a North American ‘z’ in the word ‘organization’.

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