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27 June 2012

Ofcom piracy code hailed by anti-software theft campaigners

A draft code by British regulators outlining a 'three-strikes' plan against illegal file-sharers has been welcomed by anti-piracy campaigners.

Pirates: on the defensive in the UK

Not-for-profit organisation the Federation Against Software Piracy (FAST) today describe the code released by Ofcom as a ‘major step forward’ in the anti-piracy fight.
The proposal involves the UK’s biggest internet service providers (ISPs) -- BT, Everything Everywhere, O2, Sky, Talk Talk Group and Virgin media -- who will be required to write to customers when there is an allegation of illegal file-sharing from a film, TV, music or software company.

Court orders

If an alleged infringer receives three warning letters in a year, their information may be provided to copyright owners or a court order may be gained to reveal the customer’s identity. Further action can then be taken.
‘We must not erode the perception of value in digital product to a point where all on-line product is considered free. Nothing is truly free,’ said Julian Heathcote Hobbins, general counsel at FAST. ‘Under the terms of the Digital Economy Act all ISPs will (after European approval) prepare to send warning letters/notices to alleged illegal file sharers, and to keep lists of repeat infringers which can be requested under legal procedures. As a matter of principle, this is a tremendous step forward and one that puts the provisions of the Digital Economy Act on a firmer footing.’
Ofcom has stated that UK internet users will not receive letters until 1 March 2014. A consultation on the on-line infringement of the copyright code closes on 26 July, with a separate consultation on the allocation of costs for policing the code running until 18 September.

Whistleblowing ignorance

Meanwhile, FAST research has revealed that 62 per cent of the UK workforce is unaware of whistleblowing legislation designed to protect them.
The research – conducted across 100 companies – found that more than three-quarters of those asked stated that their employer doesn’t have a policy on illegally-used software, while 68 per cent said they would not report it in any case. One-third added that they would likely turn a bling eye to protect their jobs.
 Mr Hobbins commented: ‘This survey betrays a worrying lack of appreciation on the importance of software and its correct licensing. This general ignorance, wilful or otherwise, fails to fully understand the value of digital product.
‘Mixed feelings about whistleblowing are understandable, but not doing so may be counterintuitive. Serious compensation can be payable if your employer acts illegally when a protected disclosure is made’

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