As MPs start to debate the Digital Economy Bill and move to bring into law measures to prevent piracy Microsoft has revealed the widespread extent of user indifference to respecting intellectual property.
The software vendor has taken the wraps off research which will confirm most of the industry's suspicions about public attitudes towards keeping on the right side of the law.
According to the vendor's Attitudes to Piracy report a third of respondents believed it was acceptable to use illegal software.
One in six people admitted to using illegal software at home and work and only a third of those quizzed seemed to understand the potential risks of using applications that were pirated.
The Digital Economy Bill has caused controversy with its planned measures of cracking down on those downloading illegal software reducing their speed of internet access and potentially cutting them off completely.
What has alarmed Microsoft in its report is the low awareness of the risks of using unlicensed software which are not only legal but can include increased exposure to viruses and security threats.
"This report shows just how much we need to wake up to dangers of software piracy in Britain. All too often, people only realise the true consequences of using pirated software when precious data like family photos are lost or deleted from your computer," said Michala Wardell, head of anti-piracy at Microsoft UK.
The Business Software Alliance has been actively pursuing those firms that ignore the law and its director of compliance marketing Julian Swan warned that it would not lessen its hunt for criminal activity.
"The cost of being found using unlicensed software far outweighs any perceived savings. Businesses expose themselves to the risks of fines, reputational damage and data loss if they allow software to be duplicated or downloaded from illegal web sites," he said.