War on software pirates

PC Association joins forces with Microsoft to help combat £1 billion a year practice
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IN AN attempt to reduce the amount of illegal software circulating in the marketplace, the PCA is launching a new scheme aimed at targeting those dealing in counterfeit or hard disk loaded software without licensing payment.

Software theft costs the industry over a £1 billion a year in the UK, with the piracy rate running at 27 per cent. The existence of the illegal goods on the market offers prices the consumer often finds too attractive to ignore, which compromises their legal standing as well as putting legitimate businesses at a commercial disadvantage. Illicit software is often sold within computer systems by illegitimate computer builders and resellers, which can include application software as well as the operating system itself.

The PCA has decided to take measures to counter the illegal practice, after a call to action from many of its members, complaining that their businesses are being affected. The UK trade body’s Code of Practice specifically outlaws software theft.

Initially aimed at Microsoft products, the new scheme is designed to replace existing anti-piracy channels, which some see as overly complex. The system (via unfaircompetition@pcauk.org) promises anonymity, as the association removes the source information before forwarding the details on for investigation. Microsoft has promised that all of the complaints it receives will be looked into and results reported back to the PCA, which will publish the results. The service is open to non-PCA members, and it is expected that the service will subsequently be available to companies other than Microsoft.

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