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Software Compliance Scheme Extended To North West of England

The Federation Against Software Theft : 01 December, 2010  (Company News)
FAST and the Trading Standards office are raising awareness levels in the North West of England regarding the illegal use of software products
The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) has joined forces with Trading Standards in the North West to support its innovative campaign to advise businesses on the issue of software misuse and how to ensure compliance.

The campaign based on a comprehensive brochure entitled 'Software - Stay Legal', was officially launched at an event on November 24th at the Gateway in Warrington. At the same time FAST launched a new Law Enforcement website to download the Guide.

The event saw presentations from Trading Standards teams and FAST educating businesses on a range of issues such as how to buy software, downloading, the types of products to be aware of and the legal ramifications of misuse. This was supported by a presentation from John Lunt MD of local Software publisher Certero, based in Warrington on his experience as a Rights holder and the importance of intellectual property for his business. Finally Nicola Miles, a Barrister from 7 Harrington Street, Chambers, made a detailed presentation on the current legal framework.

This is the first such educational initiative in the North West on such a scale and follows a pilot launched in Cardiff in 2009. FAST will be acting as an additional resource providing businesses in the area with detailed information on software compliance.

John Lovelock, Chief Executive of FAST, stated: "Technology is a double edged sword; acting as a catalyst for businesses to prosper but at the same time facilitating software theft, often unintended. As a result we intend to fully co-operate with Trading Standards North West so that together we can work together to ensure use of genuine software at work. We are focused on the same ends as Trading Standards, doing some groundbreaking work and exploring new boundaries granted by legislation to protect the software industry in the UK and further a-field."

John Lovelock added: "It has become commonplace for businesses to often unintentionally break piracy laws by not paying attention to software licensing. To clarify, if a software application doesn't have a licence, or if the licence only entitles its use for an individual machine but it is being installed on various computers, then it is illegally installed."

According to section 107A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, Trading Standards now has the duty and the power to investigate and at the end of the day, prosecute copyright offences and this could mean inspecting UK workplaces to check compliance following a whistleblower complaint without notice.

John continued: "Businesses will not benefit from cutting corners when it comes to software compliance. Remember also that viruses, spyware and trojans are a few nasty knock-on effects of using pirated software. Aside from a hefty fine and possible imprisonment for criminal offences by directors knowingly allowing illegal use, an organisation can lose its reputation if it is exposed for illegal activity."

Peter Astley, Trading Standards North West, added: "Every year Britain's digital economy is largely affected by piracy and illegitimate software use: future investment, innovation and people's jobs are at stake. We want a level playing field for those businesses that are meeting their legal requirements. With the support of FAST we are now looking to work together tackling software theft in the workplace which includes helping and supporting those businesses trying to trade legally in the current economic climate."

John concluded: "We cannot emphasise enough how vital it is for businesses to monitor their software licences. We fully support Trading Standards as they continue to turn the spotlight on organisations. We're happy to be of service encouraging the growth and prosperity of Britain's digital economy."
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