By Marcus Leach

A new industry-driven initiative aimed at reducing the sales of counterfeit goods online has been welcomed by the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST), as an important step in the fight against piracy.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed on May 5th 2011 by a number of rights-holders, Internet platforms and trade associations, has brought together brands such as Amazon, Burberry, eBay, Microsoft and the Motion Picture Association of America.

“From our perspective this can only been seen as a positive move. It represents the conclusion of one of the main planks of the European Commission’s September 2008 communication on enhancing the campaign to protect intellectual property rights," Julian Heathcote Hobbins, General Counsel, FAST, stated.

“Under the terms of this MoU, rights-holders and other parties involved in the online world have come together to help deal with the prevention, identification and removal of illegal offers and sellers on Internet platforms. As such this needs to be seen as a code of practice in the fight against pirated goods, and will enhance collaboration amongst the participating organisations.”

One of the key elements of the MoU is that the parties involved have agreed on a number or key principles regarding notice and take-down procedures. In addition they have also made a number of commitments to take pro-active and preventative measures to fight counterfeiting, as well as improve co-operation and information exchange.

“These are incredibly important commitments being made by both rights holders and internet platform providers. This may be a voluntary agreement, but it is a sign of the growing importance - and recognition - of the value of intellectual property rights in today’s economy. Increased co-operation between all parties must be a good thing when notifying internet platforms as this often leads to effective action,” concluded Julian.