Police in Greece and Britain have broken up a software piracy ring and arrested two men who are accused of selling millions of dollars worth of pirated business software. One software company estimates it lost $360 million in revenue to the pirates.

Making illegal copies of computer games Latest News about computer games and desktop applications is one thing, but ripping off enterprise software is entirely another.

Greek and British police have broken up a ring doing just that and made two arrests. They confiscated 7,000 CD-ROMs with a wide range of software programs on them.

The ring's most notable crime was the sale of an enterprise-class application for the automotive and aeronautic industries, according to press reports. The application -- made by an unnamed global software company -- was being sold for about US$905. The company that makes it lost $360 million in revenue due to the piracy, said police.

Old Problem, New Twist

The Greek and British men arrested were marketing the enterprise software over the Internet. The operation reportedly was doing millions of dollars in business. And it is a problem that will not go away anytime soon, Yankee Group's Laura DiDio told NewsFactor.

"There's no excuse for pirating," she said, pointing out that China in particular is cracking down on those distributing illegal copies of software. However, the enterprise software market is booming in many world regions -- especially developing countries -- and along with booming software demand comes booming demand for pirated copies.

Short-Sighted Pirates

What those who steal enterprise software -- or those who lift desktop software for enterprise purposes -- fail to realize is that illegal applications come with headaches over and above their black-market origins.

Technical support and maintenance are enormous issues for enterprise I.T. departments everywhere, and those that obtain software illegally do not get very far down the line before realizing that they are cut off from vendor support, patches and upgrades.

The blade slices both ways, says DiDio. First, those that begin operations with illegal software may be surprised to find that maintaining an enterprise-class application entails many more costs than simply the software license.

Network maintenance and customization come at a hefty price. They may not have the staff or expertise necessary to do accomplish these tasks in-house. And in cases of piracy, calling the support group of the software developer is more than just a little awkward.


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