Levels of intentional software piracy revealed | FAST

Levels of intentional software piracy revealed

Intentional misuse of software is having a major impact on the technology sector, warns FAST

Over 130 cases of intentional software piracy were reported to the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) via its online whistleblowing facility since April 2015, as the so-called victimless crime continues to hit software publishers both large and small. Over the past year a total of 133 reports were made, 98 of which related to the intentional illegal use or installation of software programs.

This is the second time the anti-piracy body has released information on its casework and enforcement activity and represents the work it has been conducting over the past year. The first time it did so was to report on its work conducted in 2012.

Julian Heathcote Hobbins, General Counsel, FAST stated: “There are those that argue that intentional software misuse will hardly hit the bigger vendors in the technology sector. But let’s be clear it impacts both large and small companies and it is in the SMB space that this is most keenly felt. It may come as no surprise to some that Microsoft, with its diverse and attractive product portfolio, is subject to such high levels of piracy. In fact, if you study the FAST figures, Microsoft products accounted for over 60 per cent of all active cases we progressed with. But while this is a global giant, the smaller vendors, the start-ups and the domestic, home grown software developers are also falling victim to those who intentionally use unlicensed software and that means revenue is hit, jobs are threatened and innovation stifled.

“Software licensing has to be considered as part of any responsible businesses’ internal governance rather than just a burden for the IT department. It’s not just a question of the company doing the right thing by paying for the software it uses or being efficient about making sure you’re not paying for licenses you don’t need.  Pirated software can also make the business vulnerable to cyber breaches, which are more prevalent than ever. If users are downloading cracked software and installing it, it often brings malware along with it. Cyber health matters in protection of the business assets and shielding of customer information, for example, against hacks,” he added.

The most commonly reported business software programs intentionally misused are:

  • Microsoft Windows®
  • SQL Server®
  • Microsoft Office®
  • Adobe Creative Suite®
  • Adobe Creative Suite and Photoshop®
  • IBM©
  • TimeIt Ultra®
  • VMware
  • Delphi
  • Corel Draw®
  • Dell™ Migration Manager
  • Citrix®
  • Ediabas©

According to the Tech Nation 2016 Report from TechCity, over 1.5 million jobs are dependent on what it terms the Digital Technology Economy. Jobs grew 11.2% between 2011 and 2014, which was 2.8 times faster than the rest of the economy.  The Report also estimates that the entire Digital Tech industries is responsible for £161 billion in turnover, comprising of 58,000 digital technology businesses of which 17% of that was the app and software development sector alone.

FAST has released the figures following the recent announcement from the BSA that the level of unlicensed software in the UK had dropped to 22 per cent in 2015. But according to the BSA survey - Seizing Opportunity Through License Compliance – the fall hides the fact that the commercial value of unlicensed software in the UK stands at £1.3 billion, the second highest in Europe.

“We have long said that software piracy – be it intentional or not – is far from a victimless crime. If this BSA figure is to be believed it clearly illustrates the scale of the problem in monetary terms. This is £1.3 billion pulled out of the industry - and therefore out of the economy as a whole - and that means lost jobs and investment,” added Julian.

Overall, software piracy is not the innocent, victimless crime it is advertised as. FAST has the ambition to end software piracy, and we need your help. If you have witnessed, experienced or have been forced to use pirated software in work, then make a report and you’ll be entitled to financial compensation should the case succeed.