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FAST's Defense of Trading Standards' Budget, Possible Expansion of a Private Copying Levies in Austria, and Taobao and Sohu's Removal From the USTR Piracy List - Week in Review 12/17/2012

December 17, 2012

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Welcome back to V.i. Labs’ weekly update on software license protection, piracy and international copyright law. This week we cover FAST's defense of Trading Standards' budget, possible expansion of a private copying levies in Austria and Taobao and Sohu's removal from the USTR piracy list. Read on and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Google+ and our RSS feed to get the latest news.

FAST Warns UK Budget Cuts Will Hamper Fight Against Software Piracy

Federation Against Software Theft

The UK based Federation Against Software Piracy (FAST) voiced concern with the British Government’s decision to cut funding for the Trading Standards Institute. Trading Standards is the government agency tasked with enforcing the UK’s copyright protection legislation. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, since austerity measures began in 2009 the budget for Trading Standards has been cut by 32 percent.

FAST works closely with Trading Standards to protect the intellectual property of its members. In its press release, FAST defends Trading Standards budget saying, “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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Austrian Group Wants to Expand Private Copying Levy to the Cloud

In Austria, as in many other nations, the Government mandates a levy on purchases of recordable media. Currently, under Austrian law this only applies to blank physical media, such as CDs and DVDs. The Austrian copyright holder association, IG Autoren, would like to change that. In a statement IG Autoren wrote that not only do they want a blank media levy, they also want levies for hard drives and cloud storage services.

The logic behind the blank media levy was that the primary reason to buy a CD-R was to make personal copies of music or movies; therefore content creators deserved a share. To many, IG Autoren’s request for new levies constitutes a gross overreach, with cynics pointing out that since physical media is quickly becoming a thing of the past, IG Autoren is just looking for a new source of revenue.

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Chinese Internet Giants Taken Off USTR Piracy List

Chinese firms Taobao and Sohu desperately sought to be removed from the US Trade Representative’s list of “notorious” markets for piracy and, after intense lobbying, achieved their goal last week. They join Baidu and Taobao’s parent, Alibaba, which were both recently removed from the USTR’s list under similar circumstances.

The US Trade Representative said the companies had been removed from the list “because [they] have undertaken notable efforts over the past year to work with rightholders… to clean up [their] sites.” The USTR warns that in order for the companies to stay off the list they must continue to remove pirated products and respond to complaints from US companies.

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Victor DeMarines

Post written by Victor DeMarines

Vice President, Products & Strategy at Revulytics

Victor DeMarines brings extensive security product management and marketing experience to Revulytics, where he is responsible for product strategy and direction. He is a frequent speaker and author on topics including piracy, reverse engineering and the protection of intellectual property.