Hundreds of small firms in Bradford are being given a chance to avoid fines for using illegal software.

The Business Software Alliance has sent self-assessment forms to small firms in the district as part of a campaign to clamp down on illegal software.

The organisation has sent a Two Minute Assessment to companies which asks seven key questions.

If companies can show they are using legal software they can apply for a BSA Certificate of Recognition.

But the BSA is warning firms not to be complacent because the penalties can be severe.

Last October leading Bradford textile group Drummond agreed to pay the BSA £40,000 in compensation in an out-of-court settlement over the illegal use of software.

Drummond had originally admitted to the BSA, after conducting an internal audit, that they were using illegal copies of Lotus 1-2-3 and Microsoft Word.

The organisation says illegal software may be a problem some small firms are not even aware of.

Emilia Knight, vice president and managing director of BSA Europe, said: "We are looking to the Two Minute Assessment to provide these businesses with a simple, effective tool in their operation.

"We know that small businesses face many stresses and strains that make just staying in business a challenge.

"We would hate for the illegal use of software to be one of these when it is so easy to rectify."

The organisation is also working with local business support organisations to ensure member companies are helped to conduct a quick assessment.

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