U.K. organization clamps down on software pirates

Up to 145 of the 150 individuals identified following a recent U.K. court order for illegally sharing software over peer-to-peer (P2P) networks have been targeted in an anti-piracy initiative launched today by the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST).

All have been contacted by the organization demanding that they settle in full and pledge not to undertake this illegal activity again. FAST reported that this is the first such campaign in the U.K. and represents a major step forward in enforcement of software copyright infringement laws.

The move came after ten ISPs were ordered by the High Court in January to hand over customer details following a 12-month investigation into the covert sharing of software by PC users.

Although most file sharers used false names and email addresses, the ten ISPs handed over full personal details, including names, addresses and dates of birth. This followed his Honour Judge Philip Raynor's confirmation that there was "an overwhelming case" for ordering such customer details to be released.

Julian Heathcote Hobbins, senior legal counsel at FAST, commented: "Traditionally most software owners have relied on notice and take-down procedures and have failed to bring civil or criminal proceedings against the infringers. This is the second strand of an ongoing strategy, bringing these actions to a head when we see software being misused."

John Lovelock, director general at FAST, added: "We are making an example of the perpetrators to stop them from stealing and passing on the intellectual property of our members for good, and to send a very strong message to end users that they can be found at any time during activities of this nature and we will continue to monitor and search for our member products being illegally shared. This is not a one-off-wonder."

Targets were identified by software title by investigators, working covertly for FAST on a project codenamed Operation Tracker. They are IT forensics experts, who assisted The Federation in cracking down on the suppliers and P2P file sharers of unlicensed software.

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