FAST Launches Anti-Piracy Whistle-blowing Campaign in Bristol | FAST

FAST Launches Anti-Piracy Whistle-blowing Campaign in Bristol

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High profile campaign being run in conjunction with Trading Standards

The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) has stepped up its drive to promote the legal use of software in corporate Britain. It has launched a campaign to encourage workers in Bristol and the South West to report any misuse of software at their place of work.

The announcement comes on the same day the organisation launched its first viral campaign. The ‘Stay Legal’ initiative is an integrated campaign through YouTube, Twitter and Facebook featuring a simple yet effective message: ‘Get control for the sake of your business.’  A link to the campaign is here:

The Whistle-blowers Campaign is aimed at raising awareness of the impact of software theft in the workplace and how by clamping down on infringers, some estimated £1.5 billion*annually is lost to the economy in terms of job security and creation, and additional tax revenues.

The campaign aims to both increase awareness of the importance of the legal use of software as well as take enforcement action against infringers in conjunction with local police and local Trading Standards officers. FAST is running an event with Trading Standards in the city on July 10th.  The ‘Software – Stay Legal’ programme sees FAST and Trading Standards working together in Bristol to educate businesses on, and build awareness of, the economic impact of the illegal use of software. This is the first time the campaign has been run in Bristol, and follows a number of initiatives already underway in other UK cities.

Alex Hilton, Chief Executive at FAST, said: “Research conducted by the analyst group IDC**has indicated that if the rate of software piracy has been coming down in the UK from its 2003 level of around 29% to 26%. This still means that one in four installed software programs is pirated. IDC estimates that the commercial value of this is £1.5 billion. In other words £1.5 billion taken out of investment, taken out of tax receipts and taken out of job creation. And all this at a time when there is an increased debate at a national level about the economy and employment,”

"We are talking about staying on the right side of the law as well as saving money.  A company would not drive a fleet of untaxed vehicles without expecting to be caught and the same can be said for illegal software in an organisation,” he concluded.

The impact of software piracy spreads well beyond the doorstep of the software industry, impinging on job and wealth creation in the broader economy. Continued growth and investment in the digital economy depends upon strong intellectual property rights, and the understanding that investment of time and money will be protected and rewarded.

FAST is maximising its power via the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Section 109 of the Act enables a search warrant to be secured from a magistrate's court if a police officer has reasonable grounds for believing that certain copyright offences have been committed. The premises searched may be that of an organisation in the public or private sector.

Furthermore, FAST will be working closely with Trading Standards as part of its ‘Stay Legal’ campaign. Section 107A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, gives Trading Standards the duty to prosecute copyright offences and may inspect workplaces to check for compliance including software. FAST is providing guidance for Trading Standards officers across the country on how to spot piracy and therefore be equipped to enforce intellectual property rights.

Alex Hilton added: "Government, supported by the enforcement bodies such as the Federation, has a key role to play in protecting intellectual property rights which provide the infrastructure for our economy. In the future, a strong, effective intellectual property regime will be a competitive advantage for the UK.

"But without IP protection the software sector, indeed the whole content industry, could not exist, let alone prosper. In today's digital world, IP is the key to our future and in an increasingly competitive global economy any attack on our intellectual capital is an attack on the economy itself."

FAST is able to participate in police raids on suspect premises for evidence, which if a subsequent prosecution were to be successful, company officers including directors may incur a custodial sentence if they use unlicensed software, not to mention enduring the rigours of the investigation.

Alex Hilton concluded: “If you would like to make a report to FAST about an organisation using unlicensed software please contact us directly and in confidence via our Whistleblowers service:

Email or make a report online at