Software piracy climbing up the political agenda

Politicians leading the fight against software piracy have said more needs to be done but the last couple of years have seen awareness about the issue grow

Protection of intellectual property has taken great strides in the last couple of years but the politicians leading the fight against piracy admit that there is still more to be done.

Speaking at an event at Parliament organised by the Federation Against Software (FAST) and Microsoft the intellectual property adviser to the Prime Minister Mike Weatherley MP said that there had been "a good couple of years on IP" and the issue was being taken much more seriously by the government.

He said that in the past couple of years not only had the issue moved up the agenda of the government but was being more widely understood and appreciated and it had succeeded in changing attitudes and raising awareness.

But he said that the next stage of the fight to protect IP was not only to continue the education but to encourage a move away from piracy and it would "follow the money" and strangle websites that sold illegal products by removing their advertising revenue.

His comments were followed by Viscount Younger, parliamentary under secretary of state for intellectual property, who highlighted the thousands of jobs that were created by the software industry, which was worth £25bn to the UK economy in 2012, and the danger posed to the creative sector by any growth in illegal products.

Viscount Younger added that it had been raising awareness of the importance of IP, increase support for SMEs trying to protect their own creative output and had introduced the IP crime unit in September, which had already made 18 arrests, including some for dealing with counterfeit Microsoft products, as part of its efforts to make it harder for piracy to flourish.

"The government is doing more than ever before across a range of IP rights. There is so much more to be done and we must continue to work together," he told an assembled audience of vendors, legal experts, fellow MPs and developers.

He added that the UK was hosting a major conference about IP in June with the European Commission and was already seen globally as a major player in the battle against piracy.

Alex Hilton, chief executive at FAST, said that the need to establish a strong framework to protect IP was going to become even more of an issue with the growth of apps because more people were entering the development world.

He said that there were around 7,500 software vendors in the UK, which employed 3.5m developers and Microsoft had reported that the number of people registering as developers was rising with 144,000 new developers signing up since the launch of its Windows 8 phone.

"Ninety five percent of these firms employ fewer than ten people and 26% of them are less than two years old," he added that with the government's stated intention of buying more services through SMEs it was vital that "we need to support and help them".

"Many new developers are entering the market on a daily basis and we have to support that," and added "There is a stronger appreciation of the value of IP and it is important to the economy to be successful in this space."

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