Fast's fear factors


Fast's fear factors

According to the website of the Federation Against Software Theft, the services it offers are awareness, education, consultancy, support and certification. It might wish to add scaremongering to the list.

As part of a pilot marketing scheme, the software policing body has mass-mailed UK company directors claiming that their companies may be in breach of copyright law and warning that they could risk hefty prison sentences and "unlimited" fines if they turn a blind eye to the problem.

By targeting directors, Fast has bypassed IT, the function responsible for asset management and licence compliance. Why has it done this? Because it wants to cause maximum consternation among individuals with only minimal knowledge of the complex issue of licensing shortfalls and piracy, and because it wants to get bums on seats at the London seminar that it flags up at the end of the mail shot.

Software piracy is a huge problem. Research commissioned by the Business Software Alliance found piracy in Western Europe alone equated to revenue losses of $2.7bn (£1.65bn) for the software industry, in 2001.

But Fast risks diluting its message by resorting to strong-arm tactics. If it wants to retain the moral high-ground over the criminals it aims to target, Fast had better stop trying to pull a fast one over corporate IT users.

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