The Federation Against Software Theft has defended its business practices
The Federation Against Software Theft (Fast) has defended its business practices following renewed criticism from IT Week readers. However, a legal expert said firms should think twice before speaking to the anti-piracy body.
Most readers responding to an IT Week report in June said Fast’s officers were overly-aggressive, treated firms as guilty until proven innocent, and used risk assessments to sell Fast’s education or consultancy services. One IT manager said a visiting Fast officer told him that his firm could be “raided, audited and prosecuted” unless it signed up for Fast’s corporate membership.
Another reader argued that a body that polices the industry should not be selling advisory services for profit. “I found the sales people used the Fast name as a threat to sell Fast Corporate Services,” he said.
But John Lovelock, director general of Fast, denied there was a conflict of interest between Fast’s commercial and non-profit arms. He also maintained that area officers are highly trained but that the “pressures and responses” from IT managers may determine the mood of certain interviews.
“It has to be a robust message because software compliance is a legal requirement,” Lovelock argued. “And there has to be a carrot and stick scenario where we offer to do a risk assessment and then offer [Fast or third-party] solutions.” He added that Fast welcomed feedback and any complaints would be “investigated immediately”.
However, lawyer George Gardiner stressed that Fast has no statutory or legal powers to pursue firms unless that power is delegated to it by individual software publishers. “It’s important we [clamp down] on copyright infringement … but Fast undermines this good and necessary work by not controlling its representatives,” he argued.
If a firm discovers they are non-compliant and might be breaching licence terms, Gardiner advised them to “have no conversations with Fast” but instead to call their solicitor or vendor.
Complaints catch up with Fast anti-piracy
By Phil Muncaster on Jul 4, 2006 9:45AM