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January 14, 2011

Digital Economy Act not enough to combat software piracy, MPs warned

Software industry should get its own legislation

By Steve Evans

The software industry needs its own legislation if it is to stand any chance of combating copyright infringement, the Digital Economy All-Party Parliamentary Group (DEAPPG) has been warned.

At an event run by FLAG, the Federation Against Software Theft’s (FAST) Legal Advisory Group, PPM Associates CEO Paul Gunn said that existing laws are simply not good enough to deal with software piracy in this day and age.

"Existing intellectual property (IP) protection law pre-dates the World Wide Web, and this outdated legal framework weakens our ability to protect our IP," Gunn told Eric Joyce MP, chair of DEAPPG. "Technology is developing so fast that the law cannot keep up. For software companies, it is like operating in the Wild West."

"The problem with the [Digital Economy] Act (and the existing Copyright Act) is that they have too narrow a remit and cannot effectively deal with software piracy in its current form. Software deserves its own Act to protect software firms, especially the smaller ones, from IP infringement."

TalkTalk, one ISP that has been vocal in its opposition to the Digital Economy Act, also had its say at the event. "The DEA isn’t a sledgehammer to crack a nut – it’s a sledgehammer that misses the nut completely," said director of strategy, Andrew Heaney.
"Any legislation to combat file sharing needs to be proportionate, fair and balanced," Heaney continued. "The problems with the DEA are the cost, the ineffectiveness and the unintended consequences, such as vicarious liability."

Heaney criticised the lack of dialogue between rights holders and ISPs over the best way to find a solution. "There is an open door [at TalkTalk and other ISPs] to all parties who want to discuss solutions, but we’ve had silence from the other side," he said.

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