Feeds

Crackdown on corporate P2P users in Britain

Software pirates beware: FAST will get you

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) is about to take action against a number of companies in the UK that have been caught making illegal copies of software available for download from their networks – which may come as a complete surprise to the companies.

The federation isn't naming the companies yet. Director general John Lovelock told OUT-LAW today that a plan of attack is being finalised, but Lovelock expects the companies to be named and shamed in due course. "This isn't about the money," he says. "It's about the principle of stopping IP theft."

For now, he isn't giving much else away. He said some of the company names may be familiar, and one of them has a turnover in excess of £150m. But the companies themselves have not been approached yet and Lovelock even declined to identify the software titles that FAST's investigators found on peer-to-peer services such as Kazaa.

While the legal strategy is honed, FAST is pursuing what Lovelock describes as "the low hanging fruit": 145 individuals who also uploaded software for anyone else to download. Their IP addresses were traced by forensic investigators, working covertly for the federation. Their names, addresses and dates of birth were subsequently disclosed by their ISPs (including Tiscali, BT, Telewest and NTL) following a court order obtained by the federation in January.

A letter was sent to each of the individuals at the start of last week. In it, FAST tells the individual that he has been caught. It demands payment of a sum representing a notional licence fee and a contribution towards the costs of the investigation. An undertaking must also be signed, in effect, a promise to behave.

Ignoring the letter is likely to result in action, according to Lovelock. But the amounts being demanded are modest: a few hundred pounds in each case, and the suspects have begun paying up. "We've had about a dozen cheques already," he said.

However, Lovelock stressed that individuals are not FAST's biggest concern. "We want to focus on corporates," he said. "This action will resonate with businesses."

He acknowledged that their infringements might be unwitting. He suggested a hypothetical example of a company security guard who puts Kazaa on an office PC to get access to free software for personal use. "The employer won't want this publicity," he said. "But, it's the easiest thing for the employer to check if unauthorised software is on the company network."

"If you're a director, go check what controls you have in place," he continued. "Use a discovery agent to find out if there's anything on your network that shouldn't be there."

When FAST began collecting the IP addresses of suspected infringers, it did not know whether they belonged to individuals or organisations. It transpired that several out of a collection of 150 addresses belonged to companies. But this was only phase one of what FAST is calling Operation Tracker. Phase two is about to begin, and businesses are the only target.

"We're widening the net in phase two," Lovelock said. "Individual users will fall through and next time we expect to be taking action against businesses that are illegally uploading software."

He explained that FAST has been through a learning curve in phase one. "We've learned that companies can be traced without the need for a court order," he said. This is easily done via a lookup on the internet.

FAST has big plans for the future. It has entered into a strategic alliance with Korea's Software Property-right Council (SPC) and the Association of Copyright for Computer Software (ACCS) in Japan and China.

"These associations will draw together a global network of enforcement agencies, working together for the greater good of the software industry," said Lovelock.

See: FAST

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.