Software file sharers next to be sued in the UK

Ten internet providers have been ordered by the UK‘s high court to hand over details of 150 UK customers that have been accused of illegal software sharing. After a 12month investigation by the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) they have now demanded customer details from ISP’s such as BT, NTL, Telewest and Tiscali.

In the next two weeks the ISP’s will be handing over names, addresses and personal details of all the file sharers to FAST. An investigator working for FAST’s Operation Tracker identified 150 people of illegally sharing copyright software.

Since almost every file sharer uses a nick name as well as a fake email address FAST had to apply to the high court to force the ISP’s to hand over the personal information. FAST said that it would be talking to crown prosecutions and police once it had the customer’s details. The director at FAST said that taking down the links will not stop the root causes of piracy as they will appear again in a matter of hours. FAST plans to make examples of copyright software sharers by taking them to court instead.

FAST accuses all 150 people of uploading or sharing copyright software online. Under the current law trafficking pirate software can attract an unlimited fine and up to 2 years in prison.

FAST warned that this was only the beginning and that a second wave would be coming along. FAST’s senior legal console said that they would be bringing action anytime and anywhere where they see software being illegally misused. According to the BSA a quarter of all UK software is unlicensed, copied or pirate.

LegalTen internet service providers have been ordered to hand over the details of 150 UK customers accused of illegally sharing software. The High Court order follows a 12-month covert investigation by the Federation Against Software Theft (Fast). Among the internet providers are BT, NTL, Telewest and Tiscali.

Over the next two weeks, they are expected to provide the names, addresses and other personal details of the alleged file-sharers. An undercover investigator working for Fast in a project codenamed Operation Tracker identified 150 people suspected of illegally sharing software.

Most file-sharers use false names and e-mail addresses. So the software anti-piracy group went to the High Court to force the internet providers to hand over customer details. The federation said it would approach the police and Crown Prosecution Service once it has the personal information.

“We can easily take down links, but this does not tackle the root causes of software piracy, because the links will reappear elsewhere in a matter of hours,” said John Lovelock, director general at Fast. “Instead, we plan to take action a lot further, making an example of the perpetrators to stop them from stealing and passing on the intellectual property of our members for good.”

The federation accuses the 150 individuals of breaking copyright law by uploading software and sharing it online. Penalties for the illegal communication to the public of copyrighted works, including software, can attract a maximum punishment of up to two years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

Julian Heathcote Hobbins, Fast’s senior legal counsel, said the court action was “only the first wave of an ongoing strategy”. “We expect to be bringing these actions anytime and anywhere we see software being misused,” he said. According to the
anti-piracy trade group, the Business Software Alliance, about a quarter
of software used in the UK is an unlicensed, counterfeit or pirated copy.


Source: BBC