Almost two thirds of UK businesses are still not complying with software regulations, according to the latest research by Fast (the Federation Against Software Theft).

"These figures make alarming reading," said Richard Willmott, head of Fast. "Put simply, non-compliance is a criminal offence," he warned.

Although Fast recognises that a lot of small companies are not fully aware of their legal obligations with regards to software, may firms are guilty of simply ignoring them.

"We simply cannot believe the amount of companies we contacted that have just not taken this issue seriously," added Willmott.

But if companies are intent on ignoring their duty then they face criminal charges.

"We issues full guidelines with all our software about registration, copying software and what responsibilities companies have for that software. But there is only so much we can do," said a spokesman at Microsoft. "If they decide not follow it they will face prosecution."

The number of companies still operating outside the law, despite its extensive campaign to raise awareness, has astounded Fast.

"No matter the size of your organisation, if you are a company director then the onus is on you to develop and sustain a legal software environment," said Willmott. "Company directors are criminally liable."

For more information on your legal obligations visit www.fast.org.uk