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Software companies demand own copyright law

The Digital Economy Act isn't tough enough to protect smaller software companies, UK anti-piracy outfit FAST claims, and the industry requires its own legislation to combat copyright infringement.

The warning came at a meeting arranged this week by FLAG, the Federation Against Software Theft's (FAST) Legal Advisory Group.

Paul Gunn, CEO of specialist property software firm PPM Associates, warned the chairman of the Digital Economy All-Party Parliamentary Group, Labour MP Eric Joyce, that current copyright laws were "like operating in the Wild West".

"Existing intellectual property (IP) protection law pre-dates the World Wide Web, and this outdated legal framework weakens our ability to protect our IP," said Gunn.

"Technology is developing so fast that the law cannot keep up," Gunn continued. "The problem with the [Digital Economy Act and the existing Copyright Act] is that they have too narrow a remit and cannot effectively deal with software piracy in its current form. Software deserves its own Act to protect software firms, especially the smaller ones, from IP infringement."

The meeting also heard from Andrew Heaney, director of strategy at leading UK ISP TalkTalk.

Heaney told attendees: "The DEA isn't a sledgehammer to crack a nut - it's a sledgehammer that misses the nut completely.

"Any legislation to combat file sharing needs to be proportionate, fair and balanced," said Heaney. "The problems with the DEA are the cost, the ineffectiveness and the unintended consequences, such as vicarious liability."

The issue of vicarious liability - of ISPs being made responsible for content illegally downloaded via their networks - is one that has dogged the controversial DEA.TalkTalk has previously joined a call for the legislation to be reviewed.

Heaney criticised rights holders for not engaging with ISPs to come up with a workable approach to piracy.

"There is an open door [at TalkTalk and other ISPs] to all parties who want to discuss solutions, but we've had silence from the other side," he said.

Tags: digital economy act 2010, internet service provider, talktalk