back to article Not so FAST: Another discount software broker BOOTED OUT

A second software licence broker has been kicked out of the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) in what appears to be a crackdown against those selling its members' software at discounted rates. Value Licensing has had its application for renewed membership FAST turned down, it has told The Reg. The company specialises in …

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Anonymous Coward

Behold the pricing police!

I quote: "He said software that is resold calls into question the 'value proposition and pricing police'..."

I do indeed call into question the "added value" of a pricing police! What do they do? Run around with barcode readers and price tag dispensers... making sure everything is properly valued?

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Anonymous Coward

Theft ?

Someone at FAST needs to look up the definition of theft.

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Re: Theft ?

They care about their own lies as much as "FACT" do.

The instances of somebody breaking into an office or other space and stealing the software is very, very low. The instances of copyright violation (*)... considerably higher.

(*) Or is it more accurate to call it "use on unlicensed software"?

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FAST flashes its knickers

Those comments are quite revealing - it isn't about stopping "software theft", it's all about price maintenance on behalf of the producers.

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Re: FAST flashes its knickers

I'm not sure I'd even go that far. Given his prior position this looks like M$ shafting another consumer group that advanced a consumer policy they didn't like. Holding up the other producers and saying it is for them could simply be part of their FUD campaign.

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Smart move

Lets raise the bar to drive anyone on the edges of legality (albeit the legal side of that edge) into the dark. That should really help FASTs cause.

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Re: Smart move

Indeed. It strikes me that a flourishing legal second hand market is a good way to (1) Reduce theft of first-hand goods and (2) Encourage product use amongst people who would otherwise not be able to afford it.

So - this move encourages theft and reduces take up of the goods. Very clever indeed.

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Re: Smart move

You could price your software to make buying second hand seem a pointless exercise. Or you could try and maintain artificially high prices by making second hand difficult, legally dubious or just impossible to buy.

Knock on effect though is people start looking for alternative cost solutions - if the price is a problem and you are buying second hand probably for economic reasons you are sure as shit going to look at open source if you can't buy at a significant discount. Next thing you realise that open source may be the only way forward for your budget.

Microsoft and co should be careful what they wish for.

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Re: Smart move

... or could just sell support contracts.

From unrelated news, RedHat is 1bln company since 2012 so not very close to Microsoft ... yet.

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Re: Smart move

> Microsoft and co should be careful what they wish for.

Although interestingly, in this case at least, Microsoft don't seem to be the least bit bothered.

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Re: Smart move

@JustaKOS

You're right, but (1) and (2) do not generate any money for the copyright mafiaa and are therefore evil.

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@Field Marshal ... - Re: Smart move

I fear you're correct. The idiocy is that they can't see the future benefit from (2) - like in the old days when shareware or older versions of software were made freely available, with the benefit that some of the freeloaders would actually pay for a future upgraded product.

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I am shocked and astounded that a former Microsoft employee is shaping his new organisation in Microsoft's favour now that he's CEO. I did Nokia see that coming

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Anonymous Coward

Value, what value?

So according to FAST my software licences should show as a zero value asset on my accounts then - I can't liquidate my asset through resale so its worthless.

Might find it hard to order something that expensive if its book value is zero as soon as it arrives...

Mind you, on the positive side, I can write off all my software purchases as a total loss.

I should get a job working in finance for Amazon/Starbucks/Jimmy Carr

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Re: Value, what value?

Agreed, there needs to be defined laws giving licenses value post sale. Publishers have far too much influence one what people can do with their legally purchased licenses.

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Re: Value, what value?

No, because you prepare your accounts on a going concern basis, which means that you assume you are not going to go bust unless there is evidence to the contrary.

In that case, you still have the software, and if it continues to bring benefits to your business of the sort you hoped to get when you bought it, then you show it as an asset.

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Re: Value, what value?

Vince, are you seriously saying you want the government to start setting prices for these things? Think about who would have the most influence over that price? It won't be resellers or owners. It'll be members of FAST, and the only price they'll tolerate for second-hand licenses will be one so low that reselling is no longer viable. Preferably zero.

At the moment the market determines a price for second-hand licenses and the system works quite well.

I never understand this urge people have to say "there should be a law". It's like they don't realise who writes the damn things.

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Re: Value, what value?

The laws should not govern the value of the license, more Define that they have value.

A license should be as resellable as any other non-tangable asset.

You buy stocks in a company, that company can not dictate how you resell them (excluding employee stock options).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Value, what value?

" it continues to bring benefits to your business of the sort you hoped to get when you bought it, then you show it as an asset."

so logically if it does not bring the benefits "you HOPED to get when you bought it", it's a liability and should be counted as such.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Value, what value?

" it continues to bring benefits to your business of the sort you hoped to get when you bought it, then you show it as an asset."

so logically from that if it does not bring the benefits "you HOPED to get when you bought it", it's a liability and should be counted as such.

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Re: Value, what value?

I am a Chartered Accountant and that is broadly correct although it wouldn't be a liability. If an asset has a value to a business, that value should be reflected in its balance sheet. If it does not (either through use or resale) then it should be written off and treated as having zero value.

As an example, if a business were to spend £150,000 on Oracle GRC licenses and find that the product didn't do what it expected (e.g. because it didn't research the product properly in advance as a client of mine foolishly did) and the licences end up not being used, you cannot show any of that £150,000 in your financial statements unless you can resell the licences.

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Re: Value, what value?

@jonathanb

True for assets in general, but in this case the net realizable value (NRV) of the asset is zero according to FAST

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Re: Value, what value?

I'd handle it a bit differently. If you purchase a software license, unless you lose your license via legal action taken in the courts by the vendor, your license can be resold for long as the vendor claims copyright protection of the software.

Essentially, since software is a machine of business, a business needs to be able to handle it just like they would any physical machine (printing press, car, calculator).

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O la la

A cartel acts like a cartel - no surprise here.

BPI, FAST etc - they all rubbed with the same myrrh, as an old Russian saying goes...

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Anonymous Coward

Hilton is credited with having run Microsoft’s anti-piracy business.

nothing like a conflict of interest, nosir. Yet sooo hard to unlearn old habits :)

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No conflict of interest at all

FAST has always been Microsoft's sock puppet. The only news is they are being a bit more blatant about it than usual.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No conflict of interest at all

Microsoft seem to have a 8 times as many sock puppets as hands these days.

Hyper-threading?

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Re: Hilton is credited with having run Microsoft’s anti-piracy business.

There is no conflict of interests. It suits his interests perfectly.

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Anonymous Coward

“The vendor develops their intellectual property and it’s their licence to sell as they see fit,”

Uh, no it's not, and a court has already ruled they can't restrict resales under certain circumstances.

Regardless, Microsoft (for example) already allow licenses to be legally transferred, they just hope their efforts to make licensing so complicated mean that nobody will realise it. Same as them licensing software for "student use" at huge discounts without shouting too loudly about it.

These companies simply facilitate a practice that is already allowed.

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Anonymous Coward

Just looking at the press release on FAST's website and noticed this.

"We stand fully alongside any of our members’ desire to protect their copyright which underpins R&D investment in program development."

Everyone knows manufacturing software is basically a license to print money. Apart from R & D, there is a tiny cost of sale compared to companies who manufacture/sell physical items.

I wander how many FAST members/staff bought their car second hand. Its accepted and perfectly legal in every industry, so why the exception with software!!

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manufacturing software is basically a license to print money

If by manufacturing you mean making it available in physical form or for downloads then yes, that is very cheap. Actual cost is in writing it first and supporting later. Unless you meant one off piece written by code monkeys?

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Anonymous Coward

What a FAAARS...

Kicking out Discount-Licensing was clearly an own goal by FAST and Alex Hilton now thinks that he can undo it all by 'setting an example' to all secondary suppliers.

I wonder whether any of the major software vendors (who are also FAST members) have also had their memberships revoked for their software misdemeanours that have been publically reported following €100m's fines from the European Commission?

I think not.

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Anonymous Coward

If FAST come calling

They will get the same answer as PRS got, FO.

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Anonymous Coward

Get with the times

I used to run dodgy versions of XP with cracked versions of all the software that I could not afford.

Now I'm a reformed character, I only run Linux and all my software is legit.

Microsoft licensing to too convoluted and expensive. Let's face it, software is now a necessary part of daily life and as such should be freely available to anyone.

For specialised tasks Lightworks* have shown the way forward, I would pay £50 a year rather than have to find hundreds of pounds for a similar product.

*For example only, I'm not connected with them in any way.

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Re: Get with the times

Let's face it, software is now a necessary part of daily life and as such should be freely available to anyone.

It would be nice, if it was true. I am happy to support software I've written and get paid for that, but if everyone wanted to just use my software for free, I would be forced to find another profession.

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So since the Volume Licensing companies are clearly breaking contract law by reselling licenses (ha!), why are Microsoft making them Partners instead of taking them to court?

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Anonymous Coward

Thank you

I have just had the misfortune to be audited.

Thank you for opening my eyes to the fact that I can rectify my "licence Shortfall" by purchasing second hand licences. I am loathe to give the grabbing leeches any more cash.

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Back when I was at University .....

Among AmigaSoc members, the initials F.A.S.T. stood for something else besides "Federation Against Software Theft".

Anyway, what would really serve Microsoft and friends right would be for Value Licensing's former customers to do an Ernie Ball. And if somebody actually did buy ten thousand abacuses, that would be so totally wonderful .....

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So... bugger all to do wth software piracy after all?

... should be done for misrepresentation

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