By Daniel Walker Guido

Software alliances sues California home builder in case that could affect other builders.

In a move that could slam other home builders, the Business Software Alliance (BSA) has filed a lawsuit against The Forecast Group, a Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.­ based home builder, alleging infringement of Microsoft software programs.

"This case began with a call to our hotline," says BSA spokeswoman Erin Mitchell. "We initially contacted The Forecast Group in an effort to settle the infringement claims out of court. When that effort proved unsuccessful, BSA filed the lawsuit."

In a report published by the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin newspaper, a spokesman for Forecast insisted the company has all the necessary licenses for the Microsoft products it uses and believes the charges made by the BSA are groundless.

According to Mitchell, businesses with multiple computers must buy licenses for each computer on which they install the licensed programs. In its August 23 lawsuit, BSA alleges that Forecast illegally copied software and has been using it on some computers without proper licenses.

Mitchell says many home builders use multiple copies of software without realizing they must buy licenses for each computer terminal. "This is an issue that could impact many more home builders," she warns. The BSA will file lawsuits against other builders if it believes they are not in compliance, she says.

"Software publishers lose billions of dollars each year to installation of unlicensed software in the workplace," says Bob Kruger, vice president of enforcement for BSA. "It is important, therefore, to communicate to all businesses that it is more expensive to violate copyright requirements than to comply with them in the first place."

If the case goes to court and Forecast is found liable for software piracy, Mitchell says the penalty could be as high as $150,000 for each copyright infringement.