Microsoft tops list of software piracy nailed in UK by FAST

'Unscrupulous' PC floggers fingered for 'duping' Brits

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The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) - which investigates whistleblowers' allegations of organisations and individuals using pirated software - said half of the copyright-infringement claims it dealt with last year that were settled out of court involved Microsoft wares.

The federation today disclosed its stats for the first time: in 2012, Microsoft's Office suite and Windows operating system each accounted for 24 per cent of the unlicensed software uncovered while probing 250 claims of copyright infringement that ended in out-of-court deals.

Adobe's Photoshop and Illustrator accounted for 16 per cent and the Creative Suite as a whole ten per cent.

Julian Heathcote Hobbins, general counsel at non-profit FAST, revealed that Microsoft wares made up 54 per cent of all cases investigated last year due to the diversity of Redmond's portfolio and its adoption rates. Where FAST finds a company or other outfit using knock-off copies of code, the federation attempts to negotiate a deal to pay for the software or advises the publisher on what legal action to take.

Heathcote Hobbins added that unlicensed software downloaded from an unauthorised internet source - from file-sharing networks to shady websites - could be incomplete or littered with viruses.

But it seems dodgy system builders are the major culprits of this heinous crime by bunging bootleg gear on new machines.

"Unscrupulous computer system builders can dupe unsuspecting customers using their computer skills to install unlawful copies on computers. The system builder gets paid, the brand owner does not and the customer does not have a genuine copy," said Heathcote Hobbins.

Changes to the Patent County Court rules have made it easier and cheaper to litigate against traders in counterfeit software, said Roy Crozier, joint head of intellectual property at legal eagles Clarke Willmott.

But he told The Channel that in instances where an individual or company was using the software rather than selling it on, the publisher can only sue for damages and these were often outweighed by legal costs.

Perth and Kinross Council coughed £67,675 to FAST last month after it was found, following a whistle blower report, to have fallen short of licensing requirements. ®

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