FAST and Trading Standards warn of software piracy in workplace - Wikimedia Commons

The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST), is working with Trading Standards in order to fight against software piracy being carried out in offices.

According to IDC 27 per cent of software used in businesses is illegal. Unlicensed PC software use dropped in 49 percent in the economies studied, stayed the same in 34 percent and rose in 17 percent in others.  

A more recent IDC study showed that 27 percent of all UK business are using unlicensed software. 

FAST has said that it hopes its partnership with Trading Standards will urge businesses to stay safe from software misuse by insisting it monitors software usage closely.

When we asked the organisation what the most used piece of pirated software was we were told: "Unfortunately FAST does not have records of the most used underlicensed software."

We were then told that this was not the approved FAST spokesperson, and that in actual fact, FAST has plenty of figures to back up its move but must withhold them to keep impartiality: "FAST is an industry body, and must remain impartial rather than call out particular vendors. It’s in no one's interests to give these figures out, hence they are not disclosed."

We were also directed to the IDC figures above when we asked how many businesses were found doing this last year.  It said that FAST is continuing to reduce illegal software use by educating businesses on software management and best practices in IT management.

John Lovelock, Chief Executive at FAST said: “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.”

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.

In partnership with FAST, Trading Standards is forewarning businesses to check that licences are in order before any inspection. Rob Abell, Fair Trading Officer at Trading Standards, says some companies have already been caught using software illegally and they have been fully investigated.

“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.”