Fourteen cases of software piracy totalling $440,237 were settled in Australia, according to new statistics from the Business Software Alliance (BSA).
In addition to paying the copyright infringement damages bill, each business was required to purchase legitimate software licenses for its ongoing use.
For example, Melbourne manufacturing company Alternative Plastics Pty Ltd and its sister firm Alternative Plastics Australia Pty Ltd were fined $50,000 in September 2012 for reportedly using Autodesk unlicensed software programs.
The BSA also upped its reward money from $5,000 to $20,000 for whistle blowers during July 2012 by bringing back a reward incentive that it last offered in 2010.
According to BSA Australia chair Clayton Noble, the 14 software piracy settlements were a "considerable increase" on past years.
In 2010, the BSA received 161 reports of illegal software use received by the organisation last year. Software piracy occurred across a range of industries including design, services, architecture, software development and media. This compared with 2009 when it received 95 reports of pirated software use.
According to the 2011 BSA Global Software Piracy study, Australia's software piracy rates are decreasing at the rate of 1 per cent every year.
"Despite this trend, a large number of Australian businesses still take the risks of using unlicensed software," Noble said in a statement.
"In 2011, 23 per cent of all new PC software installed in Australia was illegal, with a commercial value of $739 million."
He added that every Australian business should implement a Software Asset Management (SAM) practice and conduct regular checks to ensure that it is not at risk from using unlicensed software.
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