Autodesk Wins its Largest-Ever Software Piracy Settlement

College hit with six-figure penalty for illegal software use

SAN RAFAEL, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 13, 1996--Autodesk today announced it has settled a software copyright infringement case for more than $220,000 against Westech College, a Southern California-based operator of trade schools.

The settlement is the largest ever obtained by Autodesk's corporate anti-theft program, one of the most successful software protection programs in the industry.

Autodesk learned about the illegal copying at Westech last December through a tip on its anti-piracy hotline, 1/800-NO COPIES, which led a seizure order from the United States District Court. Following a raid of Westech's campus in Pomona, California, conducted by United States marshals accompanied by Autodesk attorneys, the school admitted to using a single copy of AutoCAD to make more than 75 illegal copies of the $3,750 software on personal computers at Westech's three campuses in Pomona, Irvine and San Diego.

"Too many businesses purchase a single software license and use it as a license to steal," noted Autodesk President Carol Bartz, whose company has recovered more than $20 million in penalties since it began pursuing pirates in 1989. "This type of illegal activity corrodes the industry we are working so hard to build and maintain, and this particular case is most distressing because it occurred in a school, setting an example for its students."

The Westech recovery is part of a continuing Autodesk and industry effort to raise public awareness and actively enforce laws to protect intellectual property. While the Westech case resulted from Autodesk's corporate efforts, the company also works closely with the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an industry trade group, to prevent unauthorized use or duplication of software.

When confronted by Autodesk, "Westech was very willing to work with us to try to resolve the issue quickly and thoroughly," said Sandra Boulton, head of Autodesk's anti-theft program.

The settlement agreement also calls for Westech to sign and abide by a "Software Code of Ethics", which will be distributed to all Westech employees and affiliates. The college also will establish and maintain a written policy governing the acquisition and use of licensed software. In addition, Westech has agreed to delete all illegal copies of AutoCAD and to submit to an annual Autodesk inspection for the next three years.

Corporate copying, such as in the Westech case, is the greatest contributor to piracy losses for U.S. software companies, accounting for more than $15 billion in annual lost revenue, according to the BSA. Losses from corporate copying far surpass those from counterfeiters who resell illegally copied programs, or from mass illegal manufacturing of software in places like China.

Ironically, a large anti-piracy poster was prominently displayed in a room full of computers at Westech's Pomona campus, where most of the illegal AutoCAD copies were found. "This just highlights how easily inappropriate software use can take hold and spread, despite apparent efforts to prevent it," Boulton said.

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