By Lea Pachta

Money intended for implementing Gowers is not ring-fenced and is already being reallocated.

Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) is reporting that funding intended to enforce against copyright offences is under threat across the UK as a direct result of the recession which has lead to a redirection of funds at local authority level.

Money allocated for the programme has either been cut altogether or redirected to more visible and frontline activity according to FAST, which is already seeing a visible decline in Trading Standards activity.

Over the past two years FAST and Trading Standards have been working together to inspect businesses after a policy of notification and education in line with Section 107A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

FAST was acting as an additional resource providing businesses in the area of the campaigns with detailed information on copyright compliance.

John Lovelock, Chief Executive of FAST, stated: “Gordon Brown announced seed funding of £5 million in late 2007 and a further £7.3 million in 2008 for Trading Standards to enforce copyright. Trading Standards officers now have the duty and power to enforce against criminal copyright offences. As such the body could work with software industry bodies including FAST and may inspect UK workplaces for the first time. But that funding has been axed at a local authority level,”

“We were fully co-operating with Trading Standards so that together we could support the legitimate use of software at work and we were working towards the same ends as Trading Standards, doing some groundbreaking work and exploring new boundaries granted by legislation to protect the software industry in the UK. That opportunity has now gone,” he added.

John continued: “Money intended for the implementation of a major plank of Gowers’ recommendations was not ring fenced. So that financial investment is either being axed or redirected to investigate more visible and consumer-oriented activity such as health and safety in kebab shops. This was not the intention of this initiative and it is the equivalent of taking a step back in time of three years.”

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