Queen’s Speech “missed opportunity” for software industry, says the Federation Against Software Theft. | FAST

Queen’s Speech “missed opportunity” for software industry, says the Federation Against Software Theft.

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Yesterday’s announcement of a new bill for intellectual property could have brought in needed improvements in enforcement operations against intransigent IP infringers, according to Alex Hilton, CEO for FAST:

“While it is fair to say that the IP framework in the UK is one of the best in the world, enforcing the law is an area that needs improvement. We had hoped that this would have been reflected in Her Majesty’s most gracious speech yesterday.”

FAST has called for change in three areas as a priority:

  • Implement Article 4 of the EC Directive 2004/48 to enable FAST to act on behalf of its members.
  • Make it more likely that infringers will face stiffer damages penalties that deter the use of pirated software.
  • Make company directors more likely to be personally accountable for illegal software installations used by the business.

Julian Heathcote Hobbins, General Counsel at FAST continues:

“Implementing Article 4 of the EC Directive 2004/48 would enable FAST to act on behalf of its members in its own name in the shoes of the copyright owner. Properly mandated representative organisations need the power to protect members’ valuable IP which are the assets on which their future depends.  

“Secondly, we need to move to a position where deterrent damages can be readily awarded by the courts for infringement. Purely compensatory redress has little deterrent effect on the business infringer who will argue that the licence fee is merely payable.

“Thirdly, individual company officers need to be held personally accountable for their failings if illicit copies are installed and being used for the business. Too often, they are able to evade personal responsibility and hide behind the corporate veil. We must challenge this ignorance-is-bliss mantra to software piracy.”

Alex concludes:

“What is interesting about this new bill is the acceptance that criminal sanctions for design law breach is something which should be in place. Pirating software and breaching copyright is no less a threat to the creative industries and this should also be reflected in criminal law.

“Stiffer penalties, personal liability and giving FAST the ability to act on behalf of members are all positive steps that will help the government meet its commitment to maintaining the best IP framework in the world.”