The use of unlicensed software is one of the main threats to digital security in companies. It involves security vulnerabilities for users and companies, giving rise to attempts to invade devices or networks.
The Commercial Court number 2 of Alicante imposed a fine of €453,000 for damages against two companies in Valencia for the reproduction of unlicensed software programs. This is one of the largest penalties imposed so far in Spain on a company for the installation and reproduction of computer programs infringing the intellectual property rights of the authors of the software. Two companies fined for the use of pirated software
The procedure began in 2015 through the filing of the complaint in the Alicante courts following the publication of a claim by an international body that pursues the use of pirated software known as BSA, The Software Alliance.
The Software Alliance carries out two types of actions; raising awareness against piracy and taking legal action against those who do not comply with the applicable regulations.
The Commercial Court ordered the search of the premises of the company based in the city of Alicante. As a result of the expert monitoring of several computers, the unauthorized installation of software was found.
The Commercial Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff. It concluded with the payment of a compensation of 453,480 euros for damages. In addition to the payment of the indemnity, the defendant company must destroy the copies of the illegal software found on its equipment and cease its use.
However, the companies were able to reduce the compensation by 15 percent thanks to a settlement agreement signed between the parties for out-of-court satisfaction.
Following the reform of the Penal Code in July 2015, the use of any illegal software is contemplated as a crime in the Penal Code.
According to the reform of the Penal Code, together with the legislation of capital companies and the law on intellectual property, it is concluded that the penalties that companies could incur could be:
- Economic sanctions of up to 280,000
- The dissolution of the legal person in charge of the management of the company, which would imply the cessation of the activity by the managed company.
- Suspension of activities for a period not exceeding five years.
- Total prohibition to carry out in the future any type of activity in the performance of which the crime has been committed, favored or concealed.
- Disqualification from receiving any type of public aid for a maximum period of fifteen years.
- Possibility of judicial intervention, in order to safeguard the rights of affected third parties, such as workers or creditors.
On the other hand, for the administrators, penalties of up to four years in prison are foreseen, for crimes against intellectual property, as well as fines that would be in line with those established for legal persons.
Other sanctions for non-compliance of legal obligations
This is not the only company sanctioned in this matter. Two other consulting and design companies located in Valencia were the subject of a judicial investigation against the intellectual property of Microsoft, Adobe and Autodesk. In the course of the investigation, the judicial experts reviewed almost 50 computers and found the use of illegal software in several computers, and the penalty could range between 150,000 and 200,000 euros.
With this, the Supreme Court has sentenced the owner of a callcenter in the Madrid neighborhood of Vallecas to six months in prison and a fine of 3,600 euros for a crime against intellectual property for having two computers with pirated Windows and Office.
According to a global software survey, in Spain, four out of ten companies use unlicensed software, placing Spanish companies 15 points above the average for Western European countries.
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