Funding shortfalls at Trading Standards are preventing officers from enforcing copyright legislation in the fight against software piracy, the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) has asserted.
In April 2007, the government granted Trading Standards the power to enforce section 107A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and provided it with funding to do so.
FAST claims this funding, which included £5m in 2007 and an additional £7.3m in 2008, has been redirected elsewhere.
John Lovelock, chief executive of FAST, said: “The money Gordon Brown made available to Trading Standards in 2007 and 2008 was never ringfenced, which has meant that local government authorities have been able to spend it on things they consider a higher priority.
“From our discussions with Trading Standards officers, when tackling the issue of IP theft it is often a case of ‘Money? What money?’”
A representative for Trading Standards said it is widely known that the recession will lead to budget cuts in certain areas, but that it is too soon to say which areas.
“There are concerns around what the impact of the recession will be on Trading Standards in general,” the representative said. “It is widely known that there will be cuts in local authority and public spending budgets, but we don’t know exactly what.”
Julian Swan, director of compliance marketing EMEA at anti-piracy body Business Software Alliance (BSA), said any drop in funding to enforce copyright offences at Trading Standards would be bad news for the channel.
“According to our annual IDC software piracy study, industry losses due to software piracy in the UK amounted to £1.49bn in 2008 the highest level ever,” he said. “Any drop in Trading Standards funding would be hugely disappointing.”
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