Litigation on its own is not effective in the war against content piracy, according to Business Software Alliance (BSA) co-chair, Clayton Noble.
BSA is made up of members from the software industry and is charged with educating businesses and consumers on software management and copyright protection.
As well as enforcing intellectual property laws through litigation, the group also runs awareness programs to spread the anti-software piracy message. It also works with the Government and the police on preventing the dissemination of counterfeit software.
While it does get involved with civil litigation for software piracy, BSA does not consider this the best way to beat intellectual property copyright infringements.
Last year the group dealt with around 15 court cases pertaining to software piracy.
“We run as many as we can but we can only do a few cases per year,” Noble said. “We are never going to change the world by running enforcement cases against everybody.”
Changing people’s behaviour is considered a good way to combat content piracy on a broader scale, according to the BSA.
“The best way to change behaviour is through general awareness campaigns to prove to people that there is value in buying genuine software and highlight the risk of counterfeit software to change the behaviour of people over time,” Noble said.
But that doesn’t mean enforcing the law is an unnecessary part of the anti-piracy process, he said.
“Litigation is not effective on its own but litigation plus awareness is much more effective,” Noble said. “To some extent, some people need to fear of legal action to make them change their behaviour and for those people it is important for BSA to show we are willing to enforce intellectual property laws.”
For this reason, BSA places a lot of effort in publicising the legal actions it has taken against those that have violated those laws.
But building a case against those that break intellectual property laws is tough, especially when it comes to digitally distributed content via the Internet.
While physical copies of counterfeit software can be found and seized, when the piracy is happening over the Internet it is much harder to track.
When the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), and industry body representing a swathe of film studios, decided to sue ISP, iiNet, for allowing its subscribers to pirate film content over its network, the question of who is responsible for content piracy was placed under the spotlight.
iiNet did win the case in the Full Federal Court but the judgement also made the point that ISPs have to bear some responsibility as well when it comes to preventing copyright infringement over their networks.
So will the BSA be taking legal action against ISPs over counterfeit software transmitted over the Internet?
According to Noble, the group favours a collaborative approach. It is currently working with the Australian Content Industries Group and with ISPs to develop a consensual code of practice.
“We think that’s the best way to go because unless we have a reasonable and fair system the ISPs and content owners are happy to live with then it would be difficult to achieve any success in reducing digital content piracy,” he said.