Marconi Instruments Ltd came out fighting last night after the Business Software Alliance and Federation Against Software Theft filed a legal action against the GEC Plc subsidiary for the alleged unauthorised copying of software. Marconi responded by saying that there were several inaccuracies in the press release issued about the suit, that it denies it […]
Marconi Instruments Ltd came out fighting last night after the Business Software Alliance and Federation Against Software Theft filed a legal action against the GEC Plc subsidiary for the alleged unauthorised copying of software. Marconi responded by saying that there were several inaccuracies in the press release issued about the suit, that it denies it has contravened any software licences, and that it will vigorously defend the suit indeed the micro software industry may well have chosen the wrong target in going after one of Lord Weinstock’s companies he doesn’t take kindly to being put into the public pillory and fights like a tiger. Although the products involved and damages demanded were not revealed due to the continuing judicial proceedings, the companies that the two groups are representing are Ashton-Tate Corp, Lotus Development Corp, Microsoft Corp and WordPerfect Corp. The four vendors went to the High Court in London on November 21 and were granted an Anton Piller order, permitting an inspection of personal computers at Marconi Instruments’ Stevenage and St Albans sites. Following the raid, legal action for alleged copyright infringement was filed. Marconi last week applied for an injunction order on the proceedings – which has been adjourned to the new year. An Anton Piller order is granted with the aim of preventing the destruction of evidence, and thus permits a copyright holder to inspect without advance notice the premises of a company suspected of engaging in piracy. Additionally, Business Software Alliance – which has in the past taken similar action against companies in France, Spain and Italy – in conjunction with the Association Francaise des Editeurs de Logicels, AFEL, last week conducted similar court-ordered inspections concern-ing the alleged pirating of software at two French companies Rhone-Poulenc Films SA and France Distribution Systemes SA. BSA and AFEL are proceeding with action against Rhone-Poulenc, but have settled out of court with France Distribution Systemes which they say has agreed to take action to regularise its software use. And in a move that will have a future bearing on all issues of the illegal copying of software, the European Council of Ministers meets in Brussels today to decide whether to approve a new directive for the legal protection of computer programs which would require all European Community members states to establish strong remedies to counter software piracy.
Following its disclosure a few weeks ago of the rampant copying of Unix software – by dealers rather than end users, the Federation Against Software Theft has revealed the details of a Market & Opinion Research International poll conducted earlier this year which claims to show that 55% of those senior managers using personal computers at work have copied software illegally – amongst the general public, the figure is around 43%. Furthermore 36% of senior managers admitted to having acquired a piece of software and loading it on to more than one machine, and 30% of senior managers said that their company has no internal control over the illegal duplication of software. In addition the Federation says the survey reveals that over UKP300m was lost in illegal software copying last year – but refused to discuss its wild allegations. Particularly widely copied it says are Norton Utilities and Borland Sidekick. A Business Software Alliance study of the cost in lost revenues due to piracy across Europe in 1990 claims that the figure for Germany is up to UKP1,440m, many times greater than the UK figure – though much of this can be attributed to different copyright laws – and between UKP660m and UKP800m in France, Italy and Spain. The total amount lost during this year across Europe is estimated at UKP5,722m. These figures appear to be totally ludicrous – a user company that made 100 copies of a program for occasional use would clearly not ever buy 100 copies – instead it would buy a dozen copies and make its employees operate rotas to use it, and the true loss must be far less – but the Alli
ance refused to discuss the figures. Other members of Alliance include Aldus Corp, Autodesk Inc, Digital Research Inc and XTree Inc.