US trade body the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) has declared war on UK software pirates that use online auction sites to peddle counterfeit products.
The association claims to have filed law suits against hundreds of traders in the US for similar offences, with some culprits receiving custodial sentences and being ordered to pay thousands of dollars in damages.
In January, SIIA announced that it was stepping up its enforcement activities on behalf of its members in Europe, and last month trapped its first UK-based rogue trader.
Scott Bain, litigation counsel at SIIA, said the lawsuit is the first of many the association plans to lodge.
“We are most definitely in this for the long haul and will pursue legal action against anyone caught selling products that infringe on our members’ intellectual property,” he added.
The sale of pirated software on internet auction sites is a massive problem, according to Bain, and because so many SIIA members are household names in Europe, ramping up the organisation’s activities in the region is a must.
Bain was unable to confirm whether the lawsuit filed in the UK was against an individual or a company because the case is ongoing, but warned anyone caught by the association would face legal action.
“Catching and prosecuting those at fault sends out a clear message,” he said.
Recent figures from a joint study by market watcher IDC and global anti-piracy body the Business Software Alliance (BSA) found that software piracy cost the UK economy £1bn last year.
Julian Heathcote Hobbins, deputy chairman of the Federation Against Software Theft’s (Fast) Legal Advisory Group, welcomed SIIA’s move. “The message is that if the price of a product looks too good to be true, then it probably is,” said Heathcote Hobbins.
“This harms the channel because the playing field is not level and firms struggle to compete on the price of pirated software and end up losing busin ess.”
Clive Longbottom, service director at analyst house Quocirca, said SIIA’s stance would help the fight against piracy, but high vendor prices force end users to find cheaper alternatives.
“Expecting people to pay more than £350 for a piece of software that will then require a paid update of £160 is crazy,” he explained.
“It is much better to sell at a reasonable price, rather than artificially keeping prices high and trying to come down like a lead brick on the criminals.”
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