Tom Keighley

Trading Standards funding worries software industry

A software industry body is concerned about the impact of budget cuts to Trading Standards.

The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) says software IP cases are in danger of “sliding down the priorities list” as budgets have fallen in real terms.

The campaigning organisation also warns of a potential “postcode lottery” in enforcement, as funding varies between Local Authorities.

Julian Heathcote Hobbins, General Counsel at FAST, said: “The fight against software piracy takes place on two fronts; legislation and enforcement. Whilst the legislation that we currently possess in the UK is on the whole fit for purpose in asserting and protecting the rights of software developers, the enforcement side battling against IP offences can fall short.

“Through our Software – Stay Legal campaign we work closely with Trading Standards and other law enforcement bodies throughout the UK to highlight the issues we face. There are implications for job and wealth creation.

“It would be a great shame to see the heritage of the good work currently done by Trading Standards jeopardised by further cuts to their budget. Enforcement funding should be fully ring fenced.

“In these times of austerity, budget cuts are a fact of life, and government departments often must do more with less. It’s important, however, that we do not lose sight of the larger picture.

“It’s vital that we maintain the integrity of enforcement agencies, such as Trading Standards, to challenge the sale and use of counterfeit software and limit its effects on the broader economy.”

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