Feeds

The Federation goes soft on file sharing

Piracy group casts net towards corporates

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

The Federation, the UK trade association that prosecutes people for copying software, is letting individual file sharers off the hook and going after corporate software pirates instead.

It used electronic surveillance techniques last year to track down bedroom file-sharers in a £100,000, 10-month investigation it called "Operation Tracker". The organisation, which represents the $100bn software industry, consequently secured a court against a mobile engineer from Epping in Essex, demanding he pay £3,400 for copying a £35 software programme.

John Lovelock, director general of The Federation, formerly the Federation Against Software Theft, conceded there might be good reasons to let file sharers off the hook.

"Going to court is not cost effective, so we might have to let some fish through the net," he said.

"We don't want to go to war and extract every last pound of flesh. That's not what we are all about," he added.

He said that he might even consider the social situation of those file-sharers still caught in The Federation's tracker beam when it takes them to court.

However, there are still a handful of file-sharers the Federation wants to punish before it turns a new leaf.

Butterworth was one of 99 people who had their personal details given to The Federation last January, under a court order placed on their ISPs. The Federation had tracked them down on peer-to-peer file-sharing networks and recorded their IP addresses.

The Federation sent the offenders letters demanding they scrap their shared software or pay the £35 licence fee and a £315 fine to cover the costs of its own investigation. Lovelock said that 30 to 40 paid immediately, while about another 30 paid after another letter was sent six months later. Another 30 had still not put up or paid up, so the Federation would send them final demands within a matter of days.

He said it was necessary to take a hard line on software theft because the $35bn of software sales were lost last year from businesses using illegal software, while the UK software industry lost about £1bn.

He did not know how much the industry lost to file sharers. Neither could he imagine whether file sharers would buy the software they shared if sharing was punished indiscriminately.

"It's hard to say - someone who buys a counterfeit Rolex, would they spend £4,000 on a genuine Rolex?" he wondered.

The more he was pressed on the matter, however, the more he reverted to stereotype. File-sharers were bad "in principle", regardless of the value of the software they exchanged.

"We are offering people a third opportunity to pay for their wrongdoing and get on with life, which I think is not unreasonable," he said.

"Buy whatever it is that you need to buy or don't use it. If you can't afford to buy it because you're on the dole, we can't have it," he said.

"I don't think there's an excuse for breaking the law," Lovelock added.

Lovelock refused to identify the software that the file-sharers were being prosecuted for sharing because he wanted to preserve the reputations of the software firms who were prosecuting them.

"Publishers don't like to be seen taking individual court action against people," he said.

"The general mode of software publishers is not to punish, they leave that to us. They don't want to be seen as bad guys," he added.®

Application security programs and practises

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
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.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.