Would you grass up a software pirate?

Eight out of 10 say they wouldn't snitch on a co-worker...
Written by Andy McCue, Contributor

Eight out of 10 say they wouldn't snitch on a co-worker...

Software theft is not viewed as a crime by most people, with eight out of 10 saying they would not grass up a work colleague for online software theft, according to a survey by the Federation Against Software Theft (Fast).

The survey aims to highlight the fact people take physical theft seriously but generally don't regard illegal online downloading as a crime, with the results showing the same number of respondents (eight out of 10) would report someone they saw shoplifting on the high street.

Fast questioned 250 PC users in the UK and found that 69 per cent suspect they have bought illegal software online.

Just last month Fast won a court order forcing several ISPs, including BT, NTL, Telewest and Tiscali, to hand over the names and addresses of 150 individuals accused of illegally downloading and sharing desktop software on the web.

John Lovelock, director general at Fast, slammed the "huge morality gap" that is responsible for the lax attitude towards software theft and piracy.

He said in a statement: "In my opinion, digital software theft is exactly the same as walking out of PC World with a CD stuffed up your jumper - stealing is stealing, and I'm shocked at the blasé attitude of so many of our survey respondents."

He also warned that company directors who turn a blind eye towards their employees, who may be sharing or downloading illegal software at work, cannot use a defence of ignorance as they are legally liable for the actions of their staff.

Lovelock said Fast's forensic team is currently working on a project codenamed Operation Tracker to pursue a number of persistent offenders making illegal copies of software for others to download.

The survey was carried out for Fast by Pure Profile.

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