FAST recruits OFT – Digital Asset Management gone bad
Asset management is a good thing. How can you run a business if you don’t know your own assets? Where software is concerned, it is not only a good thing, it is an essential thing. When Mabel makes a copy of her software for Jim it is you who is breaking the law.
It has become commonplace for businesses to often unintentionally break piracy laws by not paying attention to software licensing. To clarify, if a software application doesn’t have a licence, or if the licence only entitles its use for an individual machine but it is being installed on various computers, then it is illegally installed.
John Lovelock, Chief Executive at FAST
Yes, FAST is at it again, publicising its wonderful business model: We’ll help you stay legal, and if you don’t buy our asset management services, we’ll help the law get you.
Every year Britain’s digital economy is largely affected by piracy and illegitimate software use: future investment, innovation and people’s jobs are at stake. We want a level playing field for those businesses that are meeting their legal requirements. With the support of FAST we are now looking to do more work in the arena of software theft in the workplace, to minimise the chances of the bad trend continuing, as well as helping and supporting those businesses trying to trade legally and remain competitive in the current economic climate.
Rob Abell, Fair Trading Officer at Trading Standards
I object to this. I object to statements like “Britain’s digital economy is largely affected by piracy and illegitimate software use” without any statistics. I doubt very much that this is factual, and would need proof to accept it. I object to “innovation and people’s jobs are at stake” without some sort of justification. And in particular I object to OFT working for FAST.
Why do I object so much? Because the real piracy problem is less to do with faulty asset management and more to do with organized crime. But FAST is unlikely to sell its asset management capabilities to organized crime. Instead it manipulates OFT into becoming the baseball bat to threaten legitimate businesses trying to run a legitimate business; just like Brown manipulated the police into becoming tax collectors from the motorist. Much of the fight against piracy, whether software, video or music, is a fight by big business to prop up a business model that is failing; just like Brown used stealth taxes to prop up a failing economy.
FAST goes on to point out that
According to section 107A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, Trading Standards has the duty and the power to prosecute copyright offences and this could mean inspecting UK workplaces to check compliance after a whistleblower complaint.
Who is this whistleblower? A sacked and malevolent former employee? A competitive software supplier who failed to sell into the company? FAST itself? Now I am not saying that one company should be allowed to gain a competitive advantage over another by reducing its costs through illegal software use. But what I am saying is that this unholy alliance between a law enforcement agency and FAST is not the way to create an environment attractive for business. It is also probably counterproductive to the software industry itself. A company that needs 10 licenses but can only afford five will, rather than risk OFT/FAST, choose the open source free route. The software industry will lose five sales rather than gain five sales.