IT staff can't be trusted, claim self-appointed software police

IT staff can't be trusted, claim self-appointed software police

Summary: Company directors need to be wary of devious IT workers, according to the Federation Against Software Theft, whose approach doesn't convince some experts

TOPICS: Government UK

IT workers cannot be trusted and may need to be monitored when using the Internet, the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) warned business leaders on Friday.

FAST said that directors should be aware that their company's Internet activity could be being monitored by FAST itself, and any employee who downloads software illegally could make them personally liable for copyright infringement.

“All too often IT policy enforcement and management is left solely to the IT department, in the belief that when IT staff say that correct licences are in place, they are," said John Lovelock, director general at FAST. "But directors must not allow themselves to be fobbed off by IT staff as they can also be the culprits. Company directors need to have a firm grip on their technically able IT staff.”

If an employee is caught using copied software on a business computer, the company could be legally liable. FAST, which recently launched a campaign to monitor Internet traffic on certain networks ports to check for peer-to-peer file activity, said it would not waive any rights to proceed with the "necessary and appropriate legal action" against targets.

FAST was unavailable to comment on how effective this would be, but industry experts were sceptical this approach would work.

"Let's say we get rid of software piracy — will prices drop? Will they hell," said Clive Longbottom, service director for analyst Quocirca. "Name somebody who hasn’t copied software at one time in their life. [This] has got to be done with a degree of common sense, which FAST doesn't always do."

FAST recently discovered more than 5,800 illegal digital music files in a software audit of 2,500 PCs at a UK financial services organisation. Most of these files were illegally downloaded by people in the IT department, FAST claimed.

Topic: Government UK

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  • "FAST recently discovered more than 5,800 illegal digital music files in a software audit of 2,500 PCs at a UK financial services organisation"

    Only 5,800? That seems rather low.
  • As an IT professional, I feel insulted by this report. In 24 years working in IT, I have never installed any software for which I don't have a license, even my home machines have valid licenses for all the software they run.

    Yes, I've been offered hookie copies of software, but even so, I've never used one.

    I've been doing software license audits for customers since the early '90's, so it would be chirlish of me to not use licensed software on my own machines!
  • It's usually the directors of a company that can be least trusted. They're the ones that pressure on I.T. staff to, er, stretch software licenses and argue things like "well we only use it a couple of times a month" and hint that they'll "just get someone in that will do it"

    (Current employer, excepted - fortunately for my peace of mind!)
  • 18 Years in the IT business and FAST thinks fit to insult my profession. How small brained are FAST in this approach, The very people who are likely to have a hold on illegal use of software and probably do the most reporting. What a brilliant piece of public relations. Next Stop, Bill Gates does a Gerald Ratner and proclaims 'ALL Microsoft Customers are Stupid" ???
  • I feel insulted by this article. Have been in IT for 19 years and can honestly say that I have always ensured software is fully licensed. In fact Slartbartfast has it right when he says its more likely to be the Directors who insist on "Its only a fews copies", "We will never get caught" ! I have even gone so far as to refuse to install a certain product until the license has been purchased.

    A company I once worked for had FAST visit them .. not an audit but a visit to point out that if we did not sign up with FAST (for around
  • FAST would do well to demand from vendors to be completely open and forthcoming about their license terms in easy to understand wordings that are overseeable for a couple of years at least.

    Furthermore, the law should introduce full liability for consultants, advisors, VARs, vendors and the like where it concerns license advisements and sells. Once that's done I suspect that their advise will better reflect the reality of today's license terms.

    As it is now the PR departments, sales people, account managers, resellers, VAR's, legal departments and what not all tell different stories that are subject to the events of the time they're being told in.
  • An excellent point! And the remedy is so obvious too!

    1) Mandatory use of Open Source Software whenever possible
    2) Proprietary software *only* to be used when strictly monitored and logged.
    3) All cost of monitoring to be 'made visible' and charged to all segments of the organisation that have purchasing authority
  • The BSA, Microsoft and the definition of Extortion
  • When I worked in PC repair we would regulatory get phone calls from the local BSA wanting to know if we had renewed out licenses. We would patently explain that we had no such software. We then would get anonymous calls asking to buy said software on the cheap - from the same people. Extortion and entrapment in all but name.
  • There are two basic reactions on this article, even more so after visiting FAST homer page.
    The first is visceral and echoed by many - who the he&* are you to tell me 'you might visit me?' This type of attitude usually gets a black eye as the initial reaction!
    Second - didn't the UK fight a war to stop this type of tyranny from taking over?

    Just one small step here, one small step there ... like any creeping weed, thier attitude needs to be stopped before it spreads too far and people starting thinking of themt as a flower!
  • I think that the article should have been titled:

    Software Police can't be trusted claim IT Staff.

    How do the FAST staff get paid - by the bust? If so can you trust them not to inflate the numbers.

    How does FAST determine what is or isn't properly licensed? We have software (which is still running) that was installed on machines 5-6 years ago. I doubt I could find my original OS2 disks - we moved 3 years ago and there's some stuff that I'm still looking for. Course, I never need them, the OS2 computers never crash.

    So it's Open Source all the way from here on in. I don't have the time or budget to waste tracking licenses.
  • Another sinister aspect of FAST's operation is the report form which is a dream for disgruntled ex-employees and others.

    It is irresponsible for FAST not to warn those making reports that information they give will be checked (even worse if they don't actually check it) and that those making frivolous or malicious (other than merely mistaken) reports will have their names disclosed to the companies concerned.