Calls to a hotline set up to catch companies using illegally copied software have risen more than seven-fold since the launch of an anti-piracy campaign that includes a cash reward. People providing information leading to a successful legal action are eligible for a $15,000 payment. The hotline - run by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) - was attracting an average of three calls a month until the beginning of April. Since the launch of the reward scheme, calls have risen to more than 20 a month. The alliance said it had received hundreds of inquiries about the rewards, including some from organisations interested in information on the dangers of using illegal software. The industry group, which represents many large software companies, estimates 60 per cent of small to medium-sized businesses in Hong Kong use pirated materials. Often this involved 'soft lifting' - making several copies from one legitimately purchased program, it said. The alliance has assembled an enlarged team of investigators to follow up tip-offs. It has been gathering information for legal actions that will begin at the end of next week. 'Using the evidence provided it is our intention to take legal action against all the companies we uncover using illegal software,' alliance vice-president Valerie Colbourne said. The BSA said it expected to take a record number of legal actions over the coming months.