FAST: Battle Against Software Piracy Far From Over

The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) fears the battle against online piracy is in danger of flagging, with legislation falling behind technology.

Its concerns come in the wake of The Pirate Bay's recommendation to use VPNs to retain anonymity and uncensored Internet access - circumventing the UK High Court's recent order for ISP's to block the file-sharing site.

Furthermore, publicity from the ruling brought an additional 12 million visitors to The Pirate Bay, increasing the headache for regulatory bodies. Julian Heathcote Hobbins, general counsel at FAST, explained, "VPNs are secure tunnels that allow data sharing behind heavy encryption. This means users can swap files without being detected - an ideal route for pirate activity".

Highlighting the resulting difficulties for software developers, Heathcote Hobbins added, "Intellectual property is most often the method by which the investment to create a product is anchored. That is how the return is underpinned for the software developer". But he warned that, "The battle to help people understand why intellectual property rights are beneficial is far from over".

Much of FAST's concerns stem from the ineffectual Digital Economy Act (DEA), which was passed in 2010 but may not be fully enacted by 2015, ensuring the shackles on Internet pirates remain relatively loose until then.

Young people are expected to take advantage the most, after a study from Lund University in Sweden revealed a 40 per cent rise in the number of 15 to 25-year-olds using VPN services to share content since 2009.

This has led to Heathcote Hobbins branding the DEA a "white elephant", at the mercy of pirates who can use new technology to by-pass the law.