April 27, 2006 1:54 PM PDT

Rat on your pirate boss, win $36,000

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Anti-software piracy group the Business Software Alliance is offering a $36,000 reward to anyone who informs on employers who use illegal or unlicensed software.

The BSA already has an online hotline for people to report the use of illegal software within U.K. organizations, but it has now doubled the reward from 10,000 pounds ($18,000) to 20,000 pounds ($36,000) until the end of June this year.

The BSA said it opened 420 investigations in the last year as a result of these hotline tip-offs, the majority of which came from people in IT.

Siobhan Carroll, regional manager for Northern Europe at the BSA, told said that with all the software auditing tools and advice available, organizations no longer have any excuse for being caught using illegal software.

She said: "We are doubling the reward to make software licensing a priority for managers. It might seem harsh, but at the end of the day there are 27 percent of businesses who think they can get away with it."

Carroll said disgruntled staff members are often the source of tip-offs and a YouGov poll commissioned by the BSA found that three-quarters of workers would consider reporting their company if they felt their boss had treated them unfairly, while a quarter said poor pay raises would also spur them to rat on their employer.

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