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Software policing goes global

UK and US organisations team up to beat the pirates

Fast (The Federation Against Software Theft) is boosting its mission to conquer software piracy on a global scale, with the announcement of an alliance with US-based Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA).

If agencies wish to beat pirated software then, according to Fast's
general counsel, Paul Brennan, it is essential that as many international agreements as possible are in place.

“We are talking to a number of international associations and law firms in order to take steps towards an international alliance,” said Brennan. “The internet demands an international police force against piracy.”

Fast relies on whistleblowers to inform it of companies running illegal software. It receives more than 1,000 of these calls a year. Most complaints are resolved before they come to court.

While companies may claim to have been unaware of running illegal software, ignorance is not an excuse, according to Brennan. “You don’t actually need to know anything in order to be done,” he said.

But a recent study by Fast indicates that for many companies ignorance was not to blame, as a massive 70 percent of companies using pirated software said they were fully aware.

Brennan estimates that about 25 percent of all UK software is counterfeit and to copy much of today’s protected software users must go out of their way to get round barriers created to prevent such illegal replication, turning the offence from civil to criminal.

But the benefit of using kosher software wouldn’t just be for developers, according to Brennan. “If more people actually paid for software then prices would come down across the board,” he said.

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