Some of the leading Unix software vendors, including Interactive Systems Corp, Santa Cruz Operation Inc, Informix Software Inc and Uniplex Ltd, claim that up to 50% of all Unix software currently being used in the UK has been illegally installed. Lars Turndal, managing director of Santa Cruz UK says that in his company’s market for every piece of ‘official’ software sold, at least one other is actually installed. The problem, it seems, does not lie with end users, or even management information systems managers abusing their powers by copying software – the problem centres on a minority within the reseller channels, says Informix UK’s managing director Malcolm Padina. Some resellers are copying purchased software onto customers’ systems and then walking out with those same disks ready for the next job. Not only is this illegal, but it leaves the user with no support media and denies the customer the ability to reinstall the software at a later date. After such a public admission of these abuses, moves to combat the problem are likely to come swiftly from the Unix industry. The Federation Against Software Theft – FAST – is one group that has long campaigned for a clampdown on such activities. Interactive Systems’ director of European operations, Doug Miller, admits that a lot of software has been illegally installed, but believes the practice is even more rife on the continent, where it could even be reaching the endemic levels more often associated with the former Eastern Bloc countries. One Italian Interactive reseller claims that for every legitimate copy of Interactive Unix installed in Italy, there are between five and 10 others illegally installed. Given those numbers, we’ve probably got a million copies installed, said Miller.
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