Originally created 07/03/97

Philadelphia agrees to pay up for illegal software copies

PHILADELPHIA - The city is paying $121,610 to settle allegations two City Hall offices made hundreds of illegal copies of software instead of buying the programs.

The settlement was reached with a watchdog group called the Business Software Alliance after the organization was tipped off by a whistle-blower.

Employees at Air Management Services and Environmental Health Services made more than 200 copies of about a dozen programs - including spreadsheet, word-processing and database software made by Microsoft, Lotus and Adobe.

"What happened here was inadvertent," Kevin Feeley, spokesman for the mayor, said Tuesday.

The payment equals the suggested retail prices for the software - far less than the seven-digit fine Philadelphia might have faced in court, said Bob Kruger, head of copyright enforcement at the Business Software Alliance.

It was the first government settlement announced by the Washington-based alliance, which represents eight major software companies and investigates some 500 reports of piracy each year by businesses and institutions.

Kruger said the industry loses $2.3 million annually to illegal copying.

No one has been disciplined by the city, Feeley said, and a strict anti-piracy policy has been adopted.


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