Software – Stay Legal campaign launched in North East

A new campaign highlighting the hidden costs of software piracy to the North East’s economy, showing that the “victimless crime” of software theft directly affects jobs in the region, has been launched.

The campaign – ‘Software – Stay Legal’ – being launched at an event at the Baltic Centre for contemporary art in Gateshead on March 29th will see the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) educating and training Trading Standards from across the region on the economic impact of piracy.

This is the first such initiative in the North East and brings together speakers from a host of software intellectual right’s holders such as Sage, Adobe, Microsoft and Symantec as well as FAST. The event will highlight the role that software development has in jobs creation and the impact that piracy has on the economy of the region.

Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North, is also backing the campaign, which is crucial in protecting the region’s continued development as a technology hub as well as protecting jobs.

“Industry-led organisations such as FAST ensure that consumers, legitimate businesses and their employees are protected from those that choose to break the law. This partnership between enforcement agencies and Trading Standards underlines the importance of working together in raising awareness, offering guidance and where necessary, enforcing the law,” she stated.

“The software industry is particularly important to my constituency, with Sage based at Great Park being one of the single biggest employers in Newcastle North. That’s why I’m delighted to lend my support to the FAST campaign,” she added.

Phil Keown, Chair of FAST, stated: “Software piracy is sometimes seen as a victimless crime, but the simple reality is that anything that harms legitimate, legal sales will cost jobs. The North East is a vital region for the UK’s technology industry is it plays home to a number of world beating software companies and hundreds of jobs are dependent on protecting their intellectual property. That is why we are working hard to educate Trading Standards across the region, giving them the tools and knowledge to combat this crime.”

Sarah Graham, Software Licensing Manager, Sage, added: “The software industry contributes significantly to the UK economy and plays a crucial role in bringing investment and jobs into the market. The North East is a key player in this sector not only because it is headquarters to some of the biggest home-grown brands in the market, but because of the investment being made throughout the region to grow the local economy based on technology. Protecting intellectual property rights is therefore at the heart of a growing regional economy and Sage is proud to be part of this initiative.”

According to section 107A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, Trading Standards has the duty and the power to prosecute copyright offences and this could mean inspecting UK workplaces to check compliance after a whistleblower complaint.

Phil Keown concluded: “Trading Standards officers now have the duty and power to enforce against copyright offences. As such, Trading Standards may now work with education and support agencies such as FAST to educate and investigate to promote software compliance so vital in the Digital Economy in the North East and this conference will give them the tools to do just that!”

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