Spreckley regains FAST brief to target bosses

The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) has parted with Berkeley PR and rehired Spreckley Partners as it bids to send a warning to business leaders.

The organisation, which has championed the intellectual property rights of software developers since 1984, is keen to educate businesses on legal software use and ensure bosses understand the consequences of using illegal programs.

Under the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act, directors are liable for staff use of unlicensed software, and can face up to ten years in jail. 'Software often gets treated like stationery and is not seen as having any particular value,' said FAST chairman John Lovelock.

Spreckley will lobby for more police resources and muster the political will to stamp out software and IP theft. FAST hired the agency in 1999, but split its PR support in 2003 with Berkeley taking the compliance side and Spreckley on education work.

It handed the entire account to Berkeley last May, but Lovelock said FAST decided last month that Spreckley was 'more attuned to [our] activities'.

'Spreckley's brief is to help us stamp out director complacency by highlighting enforcement cases,' Lovelock added.

At the end of January, FAST took ten internet service providers to court in order to obtain details of 150 software pirates.

'We will continue to take people to court for violations,' said Lovelock. 'And we want people to know exactly what we are doing and why we are doing it.'

FAST is also promoting its Operation Tracker, which can identify the source and end destination of pirated software and unlicensed files.

A recent audit of UK companies by the organisation found 5,800 illegal music files on the computers of a major financial services firm. FAST wants to demonstrate the sophistication of its detection equipment.

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