FAST launches Damages Program to target intentional software pirates
19th October, 2016
Major strategic shift in enforcement campaign announced
The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) has stepped up the pressure on those who intentionally misuse software in a business with the announcement that it has launched a damages program to drive compliance.
Historically FAST has worked on behalf of software vendors using educational campaigns to raise the awareness of software use in a business environment. Most business users are lawfully in their use of software.
However, over the past year alone FAST received over 100 reports on intentional illegal use of software programs.
Alex Hilton, CEO of FAST, stated: “In recent years there has been a very clear move by the global software industry to take a new approach to address the growing issue of unintentional piracy as a result of unpaid licenses in business. But as we have seen there is still a huge number of determined individuals trying to avoid the costs of correctly licensed software. As a result, we have announced that FAST will no longer act to just recoup the losses suffered by our members, but we will also recover money for historic illegal use.
“That means we will no longer be going after infringers solely for the cost of new software licenses, we will now be acting retrospectively and that means a far greater financial impact.
“We’ve heard of examples where junior IT staff are forced to mislead vendors or auditors only to later become the whistleblowers. This is nothing short of a fraudulent management mindset and we are determined to stamp out intentional software misuse.”
Julian Heathcote Hobbins, General Counsel, FAST added: “Intentional IP infringement - and that includes software – is a criminal copyright offence, when a manager of the business consents or connives. Consent means well aware of what is going on and agreeing to it, and, connive means equally well aware but agreement is tacit, not actively encouraging it but letting it continue and saying nothing about it. Therefore intentional infringement is a serious matter, and the company officer can face personal liability along with the company.”
FAST uses traditional tools such as civil lawsuits, when necessary, to stop software theft, providing a real and tangible response to end-user unlicensed software use. FAST has also referred cases to national law enforcement authorities for criminal prosecution, providing close collaboration and invaluable support throughout the investigative process.
The BSA’s recently launched report, Seizing Opportunity Through License Compliance, found that the commercial value of unlicensed software in the UK is the second highest in Europe, totalling £1.3 billion. Only France has a higher commercial value of £1.4 billion, but it also has an unlicensed software rate of 34% - twelve percentage points more than the UK.
Alex Hilton concluded: “There is no doubt that according to this report, software misuse is declining. This drop has been driven no doubt in part by key trends such as the increasing market for cloud subscriptions and growing software asset management (SAM) adoption. However, we cannot underestimate the work done by enforcement bodies and the software vendors themselves working harder than ever to drive license compliance and educate companies on the benefits of adopting effective SAM measures and using licensed software.”