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F.A.S.T Urges More Action on Illegal File Sharers
By: MarkJ - 31 July, 2008 (9:21 AM)

The Federation Against Software Theft (F.A.S.T) has welcomed a recent agreement between the government, creative industry and UK ISPs to crack down on illegal software, music and movie downloads (original news). However, it warned that more must be done to bring infringers to account:

Intellectual property representative groups, such as The Federation and the BPI amongst countless others have been campaigning for years to get the ISPs to stop illegal file-sharing. However, I believe the ISPs are still not committed enough. Effectively, anyone who illegally file-shares is committing a criminal act, and we want an agreement that has a measure of accountability against such people," said John Lovelock, Chief Executive of the Federation Against Software Theft.

The current agreement is designed to warn people that their file-sharing is illegal, so the next step is to follow up with sanctions to show that IP owners mean business.

Lovelock points towards research suggesting that warning letters will deter 70% of casual illegal fire-sharers, though not the 30% of "hard-core pirates" who make their living out of stealing other people’s digital content:

Lovelock continued, “The best route forward is the one demonstrated by The Federation in Operation Tracker 2006 when we detected illegal file-sharers online and moved to protect the software vendors being ripped-off. The Federation obtained written undertakings from many infringers to desist from this behaviour; we achieved settlement payments, and in some cases took perpetrators to court.

Operation Tracker was a groundbreaking experiment and could have been expanded to even greater effect had other IP bodies decided to look at the bigger picture and join forces to manage a problem that affects us all.

If the UK wants to live up to its reputation as a creative powerhouse then we need to be strong in protecting our IP as the only effective way forward. It is time to get serious and show crooks the majority of people want them to stop this activity to protect our livelihoods and that theft is theft, full stop.

Unfortunately many of the toughest commercial pirates often include those that know how to mask what they're doing online through encryption and other methods. The new rules are likely to push wider scale piracy further into this same underground, making it harder to detect, yet also perhaps harder for casual users to access.

Meanwhile ISPs and the industry are currently debating how best to act against broadband consumers that ignore their warning letters. The prospect of such individuals being disconnected from their ISPs has been thrown out, although harsh traffic restriction penalties look increasingly likely.


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