Updated Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2008, at 5:17 p.m. EST

Six companies have settled claims with the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an anti-piracy public-policy group, for nearly $700,000 in damages resulting from the use of unlicensed software.

Overseas Media, Vecta Industries and Ellery Homestyles LLC, all of New York; IBG LLC, of Chicago; American Mortgage Consultants, of Liberty, Ill.; and Nova Star Mortgage of Kansas City, Mo., all settled with the Washington, D.C.-based group after self-audits.

IBG paid $175,000 for claims that it used unlicensed Microsoft and Symantec software, while American Mortgage Consultants paid $136,750 for claims it had more copies of Adobe and Microsoft software on company computers than it had licenses. Nova Star Mortgage paid $112,000 to settle claims that it had unlicensed copies of Adobe, Autodesk and Symantec software on its PCs.

Overseas Media paid more than $115,000 to settle claims that it had unlicensed copies of Adobe, Autodesk and Symantec software. Vecta paid $99,000 for claims it used unlicensed copies of Adobe, Microsoft and Symantec software, and Ellery Homestyles paid $55,000 to settle complaints that it had unlicensed Adobe and Microsoft software.

Jenny Blank, BSA senior director of legal affairs, told SCMagazineUS.com today that her organization did not file suit against any of the companies, but they each, after being contacted by the group, performed a self-audit and eventually agreed to a settlement.

“We go through our leads and are judicious of which ones we pursue, and then we contact [the companies] through our attorney and let them know [they've been reported by a current or former employee] and provide them with an opportunity to work with us outside of court and perform a self-audit,” she said.

U.S. software creators lost $7.3 billion to software piracy during 2006, an increase of $400 million from the previous year, according to BSA.

David Leahy, chief executive officer, American Mortgage Consultants, apologized today for using the unlicensed software.

“American Mortgage Consultants regrets that this situation arose,” he said in a BSA news release. “There has now been a change in the management team and AMC is therefore confident that this matter is behind it.”

Vladimir Sigunov, IT director, Overseas Media, said in a news release that his company will improve its policies.

“Overseas Media recognizes the importance of having a sound software management program in place to help ensure that all software used in the workplace is licensed and legal,” he said. “We will enforce a more robust software policy in our offices and make certain its importance is properly communicated and adhered to by all our employees.”

Andrew Wilkinson, IBG spokesman, told SCMagazineUS.com today that his company has improved its software policies since it was contacted by the BSA.

“A group that represents various software vendors brought to our attention that we did not have enough licenses for certain software in use at our company. This was inadvertently caused by manual installation and administration procedures that have since been strengthened through the use of automated software administration systems and quarterly reviews,” he said. “We cooperated with the group to determine the number of missing licenses which we then purchased.”

Representatives from Ellery Homestyles and Nova Star Mortgage could not be immediately reached for comment. Contact information for Vecta Industries could not be obtained.