back to article 'Do the right thing and tell on a pirate' - software bods

Anyone in the West Country yearning to dob in a work colleague for illegally downloading software should take heart that a Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) roadshow is coming to a town near you. An anti-piracy whistleblower campaign is kicking off in cider country next month, starting at an event in Bristol where FAST …

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  1. Colin Millar
    Holmes

    Police involved in crime investigation shock horror!!

    Mr Plod shows an interest in something to do with tech crime? Does this mean that they will be investigating credit card fraud and identity theft now?

    Or is a certain amount of "corporate sponsorhip" required to elicit the required response.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

      Re: Police involved in crime investigation shock horror!!

      Yes it would seem our once beloved plod has now become the private army of the corporate establishment, especially those of the copyright cartel inclination. Remember Beardy Branson's donation to the police benevolent fund ? Note brown envelope in pocket icon.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/9061383/Private-firms-give-UK-police-forces-millions-of-pounds-to-investigate-crimes.html

      Disclaimer: I am in no way a swivel eyed tory voting loon who reads the Daily nazigraph, it just came out top on Google.

  2. David Hicks
    Linux

    Yes, do the right thing

    Switch to FOSS software for free, easy* license compliance!

    (*note: I am talking about for using the software in an office, not bundling it with your commercial offerings, that's where it tends to get complex)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yes, do the right thing

      have you ever tried that in an actual office environment? if so, I'd love to know how you accomplished it.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why are they using taking up police time?

    Copyright law is contract law. Its not criminal law. The police should only be involved when a judge tell them to.

    The police should not be used as corporate enforcers.

    1. Colin Millar

      Re: Why are they using taking up police time?

      Yeah - but if they are making copies of the software and selling it that could easily be counterfeiting which is a criminal offence.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why are they using taking up police time?

      Copyright infringement for profit is a criminal matter.

      1. Ben Holmes

        Re: Why are they using taking up police time?

        I thought copyright infringement was a civil offence?

        1. Pat Att

          Re: Why are they using taking up police time?

          Copyright infringement is separated into two different areas. Primary infringement, and (you guessed it...) secondary infringement. The former covers the actual act of copying, and is a civil offence, whereas the latter involves dealing with copied works - including selling, or othewise using for profit, and (key here), possesion in the course of business. Primary infringement is a civil matter, so you can just be liable for damages etc. whereas secondary infringement is worse than pedophilia in the state's eyes and can result in hundreds of years in prison (in the USA at least).

          Funny world we live in.

        2. Vic

          Re: Why are they using taking up police time?

          > I thought copyright infringement was a civil offence?

          Things have changed...

          Section 107 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 says :-

          A person commits an offence who, without the licence of the copyright owner—

          (a)makes for sale or hire, or

          (b)imports into the United Kingdom otherwise than for his private and domestic use, or

          (c)possesses in the course of a business with a view to committing any act infringing the copyright, or

          (d)in the course of a business —

          (i)sells or lets for hire, or

          (ii)offers or exposes for sale or hire, or

          (iii)exhibits in public, or

          (iv)distributes, or

          (e)distributes otherwise than in the course of a business to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the owner of the copyright,

          an article which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe is, an infringing copy of a copyright work.

          It's evil legislation, but it criminalises commercial copyright infringement.

          Vic.

  4. ratfox Silver badge
    Devil

    Charming

    Do they also guarantee anonymity for snitching on your co-workers?

    1. Ole Juul

      Re: Charming

      They do suggest that you'll get a tax receipt and a job, so no, anonymity wouldn't work.

  5. Stuart 22
    Pirate

    Yep - bring it on!

    Of course we should snitch on pirates - oh how I wish the media would highlight those bandits who stole 25 years retrospective extra copyright fees from us. Naturally no compensation to the originator of the work (who were mostly dead anyway).

    Another victory for the lobby thieves ... if only Shakespeare had signed up with Sony we would be paying them for every sonnet ever recited!

  6. Ben Tasker Silver badge

    A mouthpiece at FAST told us that "staff are motivated to blow the whistle to limit their potential exposure to criminal offences and to 'do the right thing'."

    Have I missed some major changes or is that complete FUD? AFAIK it's not a criminal offence to not grass someone up for installing unlicensed software. Hell, I'm not sure it's even a criminal offence to simply be the one using it on a work pc.

    @AC 11:16 (were no posts when I started typing!) Copyright Infringement can be a criminal offence in the UK, but it does require a certain set of circumstances. Agree it's an un-necessary waste of plod hours though

    1. frank ly

      Under new laws, about to be brought in by the lobbyists, failing to inform the police about your possible suspicions will be a 'lack-of-thought crime'.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Big Brother

        "I he clicks on something, say something!"

      2. Frankee Llonnygog

        Under the new law ...

        ... mothers giving birth will be required to propel the new born through a hoop covered with paper imprinted with a EULA. Rupturing the paper signifies acceptance of the agreement by the infant who will also be required to bear a middle name from the following shortlist: Excel, Adobe, Sage, and of course, Sweatybaldman

  7. g e
    Coat

    FAST, BSA - Do the right thing - steal their lunch...

    Switch to Open Source.

  8. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Just report every MS backoffice setup

    they are almost certainly running unlicensed software - not intentionally perhaps but I've yet to meet anyone who says they understand microsoft licensing with any confidence - and that include MS employees when I've bothered to ask them to explain.

    1. vagabondo

      Re: Just report every MS backoffice setup

      My guess (a wild guess as I have almost nothing to do with MS software) is that many may be "overlicensed".

    2. Gav
      Mushroom

      Re: Just report every MS backoffice setup

      No one has ever been able to state with confidence that they are 100% legal while using any kind of volume Microsoft licensing. The licensing is insanely complicated and riddled with so many hedging of terms and impenetrable waffle that the best you can do is make a best guess at it and hope no-one challenges you. And yes, that confusion does extend to Microsoft employees. Last conversation I ever had with Microsoft about this concluded that it was up to me to decide what Microsoft licensing I needed and how it applied to me. They wouldn't help. This meant that if anyone later decided I'd got it wrong, it was 100% my fault, not theirs. Which was nice of them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just report every MS backoffice setup

        @Gav

        I've had the exact same experience with MS licensing (nice patient people, it must be sad to have that as a job), and they ended up saying the same thing - it was up to me to decide what applied to our organisation. Scary that, what with the likes of BSA and FAST depending on punitive audit-based fines for their existence.

        Adobe on the other hand, while their stuff is fiendishly expensive, are pretty straightforward when it comes to licensing.

  9. jaminbob
    FAIL

    Somthing to do at lunch

    Whoo. Time to go down to 'vuh senterrrrgh' (the centre) and laugh at an empty stall manned by thought police wannabes.

    They'd better have free gifts. I want a FACT baseball cap.

    1. g e
      Joke

      Re: Somthing to do at lunch

      Then you can cross out the A and tippex in a U :oD

      In fact if they're free can you bag me one (or more)

      1. Frankee Llonnygog

        Re: Somthing to do at lunch

        If they're not free, just run off a couple of copies

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now if only they'd actually take action when you report a large corporation using a fortune in pirated software, they might actually get results.

    What do you mean "but they have money for layers to defend themselves"?

  11. Winkypop Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Remember kids

    People are either a criminal or a thought criminal, may as well dob them in now.

  12. DrXym Silver badge

    If every pirate was grassed up...

    ... there wouldn't be many people left. I expect most people in computing have used pirated software at one point or another.

  13. heyrick Silver badge
    Stop

    staff are motivated to blow the whistle to limit their potential exposure to criminal offences

    This is a worrying statement. Taken at face value, it reads as if you, as an employee, may be liable for using the company's dodgy software. If so, why the hell is liability falling on the employee? Is it their job to police the rubbish the company installs on their machines? In some cases, how is the employee even supposed to know what is and is not legitimate?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: staff are motivated to blow the whistle to limit their potential exposure to criminal offences

      It is a criminal offence to know about a crime being committed and not report it, so if a company is profiting from illegal use of software, it's entirely possible that everyone who knowingly uses that software in the company is liable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: staff are motivated to blow the whistle to limit their potential exposure to criminal offences

        'it's entirely possible that everyone who knowingly uses that software in the company is liable.'

        Only if they know it's pirated. I have no idea, much less care if this box I'm using has a valid windows/office/etc licence. I don't work in procurements.

        Besides from that, there will be loads of infringement on 'freeware' stuff because people assume that because they can download and install it for free at home, they can do so on their work pc, a lot of the time this is not the case. We have a list somewhere buried in the bowels of our intranet (in the sort of way it's almost as if they don't want you to find it) that states freeware we can and can't use. It wouldn't have been hard to be an infringer, put it that way.

        1. Cpt Blue Bear

          That gives me an idea

          Can't we bury these muppets under reports of not-for-commercial-use freeware?

      2. djack

        Re: staff are motivated to blow the whistle to limit their potential exposure to criminal offences

        "It is a criminal offence to know about a crime being committed and not report it"

        No it is not. There are a number of exceptions to this, but they are few and mainly focus on terrorism and child sex abuse.

  14. MJI Silver badge

    I want to report someone

    "Hello I want to report a pirate."

    "OK where?"

    "Off the coast of Somalia."

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The thing that a lot of people miss who seem to think it's ok to just copy whatever software you want, because "y'know only big business suffers and even then, I wouldn't have bought it, it costs too much" is that: Taking copies of commercial software when there are intendant vendors or FOSS vendors producing competitor products, enormously harms those competitor products.

    Put simply: Taking whatever commercial software you want harms FOSS.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Commercial software is actually what drove me to FOSS.

      Word added the ribbon, I added OpenOffice.

      Photoshop cost an arm and a leg, I added Paint.NET

      Visual Studio proffesional is insanely expensive... I jsut use express >.>

      Windows 8 is shitty(imo), I put MINT onto new computers now

      3DSMax is expensive and complex, I install Blender, which is just as complex if not moreso, but free.

      Aside from the OS and games, I don't have a single piece of 'paid for' software on my PC anymore. And as soon as I can play all my games in Mint, I probably won't have the OS on my pricey list either. So long as they get Netflix and Sky Go working in Linux mind you.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Hobbyist by any chance?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If I ratted out all of my friends that have ever pirated software/music/movies before, I'd be a very lonely person.

  17. John G Imrie

    Think I'll turn up in a Copyright Infringement isn't theft t-shirt

    1. cyberdemon
      Devil

      Watch it! They'll start doing people for "Incitement to commit copyright infringement" next!

  18. Nuke
    Devil

    IANAE

    FTFA : "The commercial value of this equates to £1.5bn annually, claimed FAST chief executive Alex Hilton, and this is cash he reckoned is "taken out of investment, taken out of tax receipts and taken out of job creation".

    I'm not an Economist, and I don't get it. Wouldn't that money then be spent in another way, going into the economy by another route? And as we are talking largely Microsoft, Adobe and other foreign software companies, maybe that money is more likely to end up in the Bristol/UK economy rather than going abroad via Amazon to make the likes of Gates and Balmer even richer.

    Devil's advocate.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: IANAE

      I think the money would be parked in an account in Ireland?

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: IANAE

        > I think the money would be parked in an account in Ireland?

        Which would be cool too. That would be savings. Savings decrease the cost of borrowed money (i.e. interest rates). Hence investments can take off. Of course, in these fairy tale days of neverending bubbles, interest rates are kept low by ministerial decree followed by printing press noises, which causes inflation, puts the economy on amphetamine (no teeth after a decade or so) and nukes your pension scheme. But hey, that's pretty complex for people to understand. And the minister can take a hefty wank because he "helped the economy", natch.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: IANAE

      Of course.

      Someone from dim & slow-witted country thinks that people have a money printing machine like a Central Bank and thus should be forced to keynesianistically pump it out to increase GDP. Similar ideas can be heard from 5-year olds and Krugman. Doesn't mean they make any sense.

      Guess he's just shilling for the software rent seekers though (who brought us such nice presents like software patents and similar rapes of Joe Public) who have marginal production costs anyway, so don't expect a job to be created for a guy to watch the shrink-wrapping machine if you shell out for overpriced buggy stuff.

  19. Anomalous Cowshed

    That's the spirit - we want to see more of this

    "Do the right thing and tell on a software pirate."

    Next, very popular with little old ladies:

    "Do the right thing and tell on a terrorist."

    Now, since all methods are valid in this struggle:

    "Do the right thing and tell on a tax-dodger."

    Take advantage of the momentum at local level:

    "Do the right thing and tell on your neighbour if they don't sort their garbage properly."

    Go a little further on this tack - why not:

    "Do the right thing and tell on your neighbour if they put up a shed or do a barbecue in their garden without permission."

    Let's now leverage the power of childhood:

    "Do the right thing and tell on your friends at school if you notice them behaving in a way that is not sanctioned by the party."

    Now go in for the kill:

    "Do the right thing and tell on your parents if you hear them complain about the government."

    Hey presto - a perfect society.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's the spirit - we want to see more of this

      So your argument is that you should never inform on anyone committing a crime because you read ninteeneighty-four once and you think that any informers will cause society to end up like that?

      You don't suppose that if criminals are allowed to get away with anything because no-one will inform on them that this would also be a highly undesirable society.

      1. Ted Treen
        Holmes

        Re: That's the spirit - we want to see more of this

        Then can I report approximately 650 expense-fiddlers who are also guilty of "Obtaining pecuniary advantage by false pretences" (pre-election claims), fraud (ditto and misuse of public funds), iffy tax/overseas trust arrangements etc. They're ALL guilty of at least one of 'em.

        yes, Inspector Knacker - I can tell you where to find them:- It's a big building called "The Palace of Westminster"...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's the spirit - we want to see more of this

      +1 for a quality example of the slippery slope logical fallacy - and many thanks for refraining from paraphrasing Niemöller.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So if I report a GPL violation...

    Say I report one of the many Android devices (or NAS boxes, or media players, or...) with no kernel source available, will they get them to release the source? Or is that not the sort of copyright theft they're interested in?

  21. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    I'd just like to say

    <h1>AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRR!</h1>

  22. DJO Silver badge
    WTF?

    Meanwhile in the real world.

    "The commercial value of this equates to £1.5bn annually, claimed FAST chief executive Alex Hilton, and this is cash he reckoned is "taken out of investment, taken out of tax receipts and taken out of job creation"

    Total crap, there may well be that much pirated software out there but the proportion of users who faced with the alternatives of:

    1) Paying for the software, 2) Finding a free alternative, or 3) Going without

    who would select option #1 is miniscule, if it exceeds 1% I'd be amazed.

    If FAST are not fully aware of this they are living in cloud cuckoo land or are trying to fool legislators who are not as tech savvy as most users, either way it's far more dishonest than most "pirates".

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's in it for me?

    So you want me to do your job for you. It's not in the public interest, as others have already pointed out, so you can't appeal to my altruistic or utilitarian principles. It's in the private interest of a tiny minority of people who mostly don't live in this country. And you're not even going to offer a tiny reward? Good luck with that plan.

  24. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    One in four programs pirated?

    Is he a) mad, b) a liar or c) misinformed?

    Or does he consider any software which is free or which is not developed/sold by his members "pirated"?

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: One in four programs pirated?

      "Is he a) mad, b) a liar or c) misinformed?"

      Yes. He is mad to lie like that, and misinformed if he thinks it'll do more than push potential customers away.

      "Or does he consider any software which is free or which is not developed/sold by his members "pirated"?

      Yes he does. Any money that exists and that they aren't getting is obviously 'stolen' from them.

  25. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    What I don't understand is how they get away with this bullshit. Their 'audits' are nothing more than snooping. They have no legal authority whatsoever. If they turn up at the door people should just say "No, bugger off". Absent of a warrant, the police have no authority either.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a load of existence justification by a leech.

    Tax on a privately owned car is arguably legalized theft, and even fraud, given what the tax is actually spent on, so quite a poor basis for comparison

    Use of an unlicensed copy of proprietary software is copyright infringement, a civil offense, not a criminal offense like theft of property, so FAST should be called FASCIst, it seems more appropriate!

    No, staff who "blow the whistle" are greedy, annoyed, or just stupid people who are hoping that the pay off will be enough the cover the loss of earnings from later being sacked, or 'encouraged' to leave!

    FAST are parasites who just want an excuse to attack businesses, whether guilty or not, to justify their existence.

    Obviously any smart person will try to use as little proprietary software as possible to avoid this nonsense e.g. were possible I always prefer free libraries over paid for libraries for any software I write at work, because it is hassle to get stuff paid for, I can see the source code, and it removes the hassle a custom Maven dependency!

  27. Furbian
    Go

    Define 'pirate'...

    Well I broke the DRM on some music I downloaded from a free service (now defunct) so I could put them on my iPhone. Apparently that's just as bad as shoplifting a DVD, according to those ads, as copyright infringement is 'theft'. In fact they should also include a chap at a photocopier having copied 11 pages of a 100 page book, as apparently you're allowed to copy 10% of a book in this manner.

    Anyway with Prism etc. on the prowl, why they don't just ask GCHQ instead, I am sure they (or the CIA if the info isn't to hand) have plenty... no need to shop your family, neighbours and friends, Middle East dictatorship style.

    1. Ted Treen
      Big Brother

      Re: Define 'pirate'...

      Ditto:- in fact I can't believe some of the risks I've taken by using Handbrake on my own legally-purchased DVDs, so I can put the resulting .mp4's on my iPhone/iPad.

      Apparently, I am risking the rest of my life being spent as a galley slave, the slaying of my first-born, the rest of my family being seized and sold into the slave trade, all my livestock (pets) being slaughtered and my house being burnt down and bulldozed into rubble...

      And that's just for the DVDs I DO own...

  28. Ed_UK
    Thumb Up

    Picked the Right Place for it!

    At least in Brizl they already talk like poirates.

  29. Robin Bradshaw

    My first instinct

    My first instinct upon reading this was it might be a laugh to turn up and start handing out Linux install and Libre office DVD's while espousing the virtues of open source software. That ought to get their backs up. :)

  30. Dramoth
    Coat

    Microsoft

    There was a lot of conjecture back at the start of the 90's about the proliferation of Windows software out in the warez scene. Usually within hours of an announced release of Windows (Gold, RTM or RC or even just beta versions) there was a copy on a warez board somewhere. It was suggested that someone from Microsoft was releasing copies of Windows into the wilds of the warez boards so that more people would use it at home and share it with friends. Thereby getting everyone used to using Windows at home so that when MS moved into the corporate world, people would be wanting to use Windows there as well.

    Mine is the one with all the dodgy disks in the pockets

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Dramoth, 11:58:

    I once worked as a contractor for Microsoft and one of their very senior programme directors, and a 20+ year veteran (and also, not from the UK) said, directly to me, that for a long time MS tolerated piracy for those very reasons. That it, more than anything, helped to sell their PC in every home message.

    Indeed, he went on to say how they (MS) used to accept it; they couldn't directly 'encourage' it, but I'm sure would have, had they been able to - that Dad (typically) would take a copy of Windows and/or Office home to put on their computer and expose the family (kids) to it.

    And that that, was the best advert possible.

    Mind you, he did then go on to say that given the genious of MS programmers, they could put a completely unbreakable activation mechanism into any version of OS/program at will, so he may well have been smoking dodgy kinds of tabacco.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Genious?

      Must proof-read better. Clearly I meant genius. D'oh.

  32. sabba
    FAIL

    One in four...

    ...how on Earth did they manage to come to this 'alarming' figure. Sounds like smoke and mirrors to me.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sooner or later...

    ...most pirates will be held accountable for their crimes. Jail and large fines are a good means to teach these crims a valuable lesson.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Sooner or later...

      sn... snif... sniff... SNIFF.

      Poo! thought I could smell trollshit

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