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Time for an alternative to the software pirate message

For years anyone using unlicensed software has been dubbed a pirate but that might be changing as the unintentional offenders get their own educational campaign

The connection between using unlicensed software and the concept of a pirate is one that goes back years and is used as a form of shorthand to describe someone who opts to avoid paying for the applications they use.

But the term ‘pirate’ is not one that sits as an apt description for those customers that end up finding themselves under licensed as a result of a mistake, rather than an intentional plan to avoid paying for the true cost of the products.

In reaction to that situation the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) has started working with V.i. Labs to get some education about licensing out to accidental infringers.

The campaign will be targeted as firms and users that are unaware that they might be using unlicensed software and therefore be breaking the law and at risk of being exposed to risk, costs and the ‘pirate’ moniker. The emphasis will be on education, rather than confrontation, and the efforts will be on top of the existing messaging FAST takes out to fight piracy.

“Over the past year there has been a very clear move by the global software industry to address the issue of unintentional piracy as a result of unpaid licenses in business. This is over and above the traditional message that software piracy has blighted the supply chain Alex Hilton, CEO of FAST.

Hilton quoted research that indicated that the majority, more than 80%, of those using illegal software were happy to convert to being legitimate customers once the error of their ways had been pointed out to them.

“Often, the so-called ‘legally inclined’ software user has no idea that they are using unlicensed software. At a SME company, perhaps only one tech-savvy person has installed software onto everyone’s computers using one license key. Or it could be a home worker who gets their software from a friend trying to be ‘helpful’ causes a compliance headache at the business,” he added.​

V.i.Labs is coming from the world of revenue recovery and Michael Goff, marketing director at the firm, said that it was working with hundreds of software companies to identofy those users that were using products without being aware of the need to pay for them.

“It’s critical that the software industry as a whole can tailor its messages and approach to identify and communicate with these unintentional victims of illegal software and work to convert them into paying customers. That is why we have been working with the ISV community to develop educational campaign to draw attention to the fact that as a user you might possibly be using unpaid for software," he said.

"This is a world away from the ‘fire and brimstone’ campaigns of old when any user caught with pirated software was threated with fines, reputational damage and more and as such as we delighted to be working with FAST on this,” he added.

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