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Software pirating likely to increase during economic downturn

The Federation Against Software Theft : 14 July, 2008  (Technical Article)
FAST survey reveals that the majority of directors were more likely to consider allowing licenses to lapse during difficult financial periods
A staggering 79% of company directors surveyed by The Federation at a recent trade event stated that in the current economic climate they felt that businesses would be more likely to try and save costs by not being appropriately licensed.

In tighter economic conditions the temptation to save money by failing to keep software licenses up to date and in order are seen as a quick solution for cost savings, according to the findings of the survey.

John Lovelock, Chief Executive of The Federation, stated: "When times are hard economically the automatic response is to look at ways to reduce cost. Our survey has highlighted a worrying trend that indicates that more and more companies are willing to risk the law in the name of cost cutting. By far and away the most effective way of reducing your software costs is to introduce a software asset management (SAM) programme to highlight unused software in the system."

Critically the same survey delivered a blow to the Government's record in protecting intellectual property. 48% of the sample had no idea what the Government's drive was even after the much-publicised launch of its Creative Industries Report in January of this year.

More worrying for the Government was the view that 81% of the sample, felt that the Government could not tackle the software pirates even if it had a credible solution.

"Government has a crucial role to play in helping in the fight against software theft by providing a comprehensive legal framework for organisations such as The Federation to protect the IP rights of software publishers. But if businesses themselves do not believe that the Government has a credible solution in place then the very real threat is that software abuse will increase with impunity," added John Lovelock.

80% of the sample also felt that obtaining illegal software was 'very easy' with 31.5% of the sample citing the Internet as the easiest way to access illegal copies of software programs. A further 22.5% cited peer-to-peer file sharing, 11.5% stating online auction sites and 13.6% suggesting car boot sales. Even the pub came in for a mention referenced by 9.5% of the sample!

"What this survey demonstrates is that the current economic climate could in fact have a detrimental impact on the current low levels of software piracy," said John Lovelock. "This emphasises the need to drive home the benefits and cost savings that can be achieved through effective management of software licenses; and the necessity to continue to promote the impact that corrupt software can have on an organisation's IT estate, not forgetting the risks of being non-compliant."

The Federation is heavily focused on encouraging the professional purchase of software and protecting software publishers IP rights through knowledge and education.

"No one can deny that there is still a place for enforcement," stated John Lovelock. "However, the Federation firmly believe that knowledge and guidance and demonstrated rewards will have a much greater longer term impact on the marketplace than the stick."
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