back to article Never mind the HORSE MEAT, trading standards cuts'll hurt IT crowd, too

The Federation against Software Theft (FAST) and the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) have said they're very concerned about standards budgets in England and Wales being slashed by an average of 40 per cent. While TSI is worried about the next horse-meat scandal or children being harmed by counterfeit toys if trading …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Have your cake and eat it.

    So they say the UK Software industry is worth over £9 billion, but they want the public sector to pay to enforce IP for them rather than paying for private prosecutions themselves..... or am I missing something?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well spotted sir !

      I used to work in estate agency software (without compare, the absolute tightest industry sector I have ever encountered), and it was amazing how much they'd "lose" when a property failed to upload to Rightmove, compared to how much they "couldn't afford to pay" when it came to support and renewals.

      Eventually, the firm I worked for was bought out by a competitor - run by an ex estate agent. He freely admitted he knew how tight they are, so he had a clever charging model which stopped them pleading poverty. He also (unbeknownst to them) funnelled some of their money back into providing "free" training every six months, which countered the fact that some estate agents had a high staff turnover, and would use the support desk for training up new employees rather than pay for it.

    2. Nile

      Re: Have your cake and eat it.

      Some 'cake'... It's a s*** sandwich, and it'll become a literal s*** sandwich if we don't eat it up and pronounce it delicious.

      Here's why:

      Lobbying and laws can only do so much, and the big software, music and media publishers know it: you need infantry on the ground - or rather, regular checks on Sunday markets, corner shops, dodgy sales off the back of a van, and a back-office operation who know consumer law and how to run a rolling campaign of small-scale legal actions. In short, a local force, in every locality.

      That force is already in place, and it's the local authority Trading Standards Officers.

      I don't like FAST, but we could have it a lot worse: they - or rather, their backers in the music industry as well as the software sector - have the lobbying power to shift this to a privatised for-profit enforcement model. You know, like parking and clamping contractors; only as an agency in their own right, with statutory powers of their own and absolutely no accountability to the public.

      So TSO's need a powerful backer and, distasteful as it might be, the only one that I can see is FAST, and their sister organisation FACT.

      Meanwhile, imagine a world in which supermarkets could misprice and mislabel at will - or sell dangerous goods - in the sure and certain knowledge that there's no enforcement whatsoever. It's not just the Sunday Markets and the dodgy bloke at the pub that get a visit from Trading Standards, and there are powerful commercial (and therefore political) interests who want the TSO to be abolished, or cut to nothing - like the HSE and the Factory Inspector, or the DEFRA inspectors who *used* to do the spot checks that would've caught the horsemeat turning up in the human food chain.

      Local Authority TSO's were the boots on the ground, checking the meat - or lack of it - in beefburgers when the horsemeat story broke last year. They are also the people you will call when hairs and rat droppings turn up in the sandwiches you bought for lunch - unless you fancy taking on a supermarket in the courts, or asking a media outlet to run stories against a major advertiser, all by yourself.

      I wasn't joking when I sat s*** sandwich.

  2. Red Bren

    Self-serving organisation serves self.

    If FAST is so concerned about cuts to this vital public service, perhaps it could ask its members to review their aggressive tax avoidance policies?

  3. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Why do I always internally sigh whenever I hear anything coming from "Federation against Software Theft (FAST)"?

    Firstly, there is very little Software Theft, and theft is generally a police matter. e.g. somebody has stolen your collection of install media and licences from your office. Intentionally misnaming an organisation to further an agenda is ethically wrong.

    Next, while FAST like to report themselves as a "not-for-profit organisation", they are not a registered charity, instead they are registered as "PRI/LTD BY GUAR/NSC (Private, limited by guarantee, no share capital)", which while similar is rather more flexible - the only enforced limitation is that they have no shares and therefore shareholders. FAST have also registered a for-profit organisation. It may all be above board, but it just feels wrong.

    Not that I'm against software being correctly licenced (I'm all for it, especially given my business), but misrepresenting things, seemingly only to support the large software organisations and ignoring the small and making up ridiculous statistics at whim just doesn't sit well with me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Lest not forget a large proportion of FAST members are law companies.

    2. Truth4u


      If your organisation name begins with the words 'Federation Against', that's a pretty good indicator you're not my type of people.

      It's like MADD. I already know drink driving is wrong, I don't need your mother to tell me that, give me a break.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: FA*

        Speaking of lawyers and organizations against things, MADD was taken over several years ago BY lawyers who kicked out the original founding members.

        These organizations "against" anything are almost always lawyer TROLLS. Some were even started with honest intent by regular people, but they are ALL eventually forcibly taken over by lawyers.

        Lawyers, like large corporations seem to exist in an extra-legal world of their own.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Everyone should worry

    "There will inevitably be casualties on the enforcement side, with IP offences likely sliding down the list of priorities. This should be a worry for everyone in the industry. "

    So who can save us from this awful thing we should worry about? Oh, right.

    Worry you say?

    Worry: to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; fret. I don't fancy doing that, no thanks.

    Or perhaps they meant, Worry: to harass by repeated biting, snapping, etc. Better than the first option but I still can't really be arsed to be concerned that a multi billion dollar industry might have to pay for it's own protection rather than it coming out of my taxes.

    Or Worry: to seize, especially by the throat, with the teeth and shake or mangle, as one animal does another. Yes, that will be it. Everybody in the industry should worry fast, er I mean quickly.

  5. Why Not?

    whilst I think cutting frontline trading standards is a very bad idea as there are a lot of aldulterated goods and dangerous fakes that need to be policed, the sale of Dodgy DVD's and under licensing seems to be something of a civil matter.

    If M$ software is being under licensed they and Fast can afford to counter it with a civil case.

    I only ever seem to get phone calls trying to sell me seminars and software licensing tools from FAST, this is despite working for a Global company with very tight control on licensing.

  6. Alan Brown Silver badge

    FAST are getting desperate

    Because they keep jacking up their annual fees and many shakedown victims have taken the point of view that paying the fees is more expensive than moneies saved for too many licenses(*), or used it as a good reason to move to opensource.

    End result is that their revenue is decreasing.

    (*) What FAST don't trumpet very loudly is that _most_ businesses in the UK have more licenses for software than the software they're running, not the other way around. The audit tool is useful for finding that and reducing expenditure but once you know that and have systems/procedures locked down enough to make sure dodgy stuff isn't being installed, you don't need to keep paying FAST

  7. BongoJoe

    Won't someone think of the children...

    of the poor advertising types who whilst being unencumbered by talent produce those ropey adverts featuring manic one-eyed blacksmiths who are, quite clearly, sponsoring terrorism.

  8. Simon Zerafa

    Given that Trading Standards (and Health and Safety) budgets are being cut by 40% means the Government thinks that Copyright issues will get a low priority.

    As (generally) no one dies when copyright is infringed the outcome will be that these cases will get a very low priority over those issues and cases where life or health are involved.

    If FAST wants this to chance then they need to campaign for local government and central government bodies to get more funding.

  9. zb

    Warm and cuddly

    FAST should be congratulated for being so worried about protecting children against dangerous toys and horsemeat. It is a calumny to suggest that they are at all concerned about the revenue of its members.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Warm and cuddly

      The horsemeat thing isn't a joke, it had serious repercussions for me.

      After buying and eating some Tesco Everyday Value "beefburgers" a couple of years ago, my personality changed drastically. Within a short period of time I stopped being a socially-skilled, extroverted people person.

      I developed an interest in fantasy role-playing games featuring dwarfs wielding ludicrously-sized double-headed axes et al. I became a basement dweller, and only wanted to communicate with people via the Internet. My interests became narrow and obsessive, and I didn't get why other people weren't as interested as I was with the complete history of the number 31 bus route. I had an aversion to looking people in the eye when I spoke to them.

      A year or so back, it was revealed that Tesco (and other supermarkets') economy burgers contained a significant proportion of horsemeat. Not only this, but some of the "horse" meat may have been donkey:-

      That's when it dawned on me... Tesco may have been responsible for giving me ass-burgers.

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: Warm and cuddly

        Bravo, sir. Most droll. I tip my hat to you.

      2. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Warm and cuddly


        * giggle* *snerk* *titter* *snigger*

        You said "Tesco".

        (well played AC)

      3. NeilMc

        Re: Warm and cuddly

        A quality and insightful retort AC....

        Most of the comments perhaps predicatably are about Tech, Software and IP theft.

        I believe there needs to be equal focus (perhaps not on this forum) for the work that TSI do on Horsemeat scandals yes, but also other fake goods as well as poor traders, scam artists in all their forms, consumer protection in general.

        This is what the Government is short changing the public on yet again.

        It seems to me all we hear about is service cuts and yet the government perpetuates the message that this is not effecting the front line and they are purely cutting Public Sector fat.

        Bollox to that Boy George the truth will out just like it did with Labour of spending when there is no income and immigration.

  10. Tom 35

    and helped to catch a Lancashire paedophile,

    Well that's fine and everything but how many terrorist did they catch?

    What,did they charge the Lancashire paedophile with? Selling bootleg kiddy porn?

  11. K

    cuts'll hurt IT crowd .... will affect IP enforcement, moans FAST`

    That's a contradiction if ever I saw one!!

  12. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    Maybe it is possible?

    but it will probably require efficiencies such as the wage bill remains the same but number of employees increases.

    And they are not going to do that now are they?

  13. Hans 1

    subtitle on horsemeat

    Now, I have had horse meat, I am British and did not know what I was eating at the time, suffice to say that I was mad at the woman who knowingly prepared the meal.... I find it rather disturbing that ppl complain about horse meat when they are totally fine with eating the produce of anal glands, from the castor.... whenever you see "natural flavor of vanilla, strawberry, raspberry etc" you should know that that is the secretion of anal glands, from a castor, Haribo sweets are one famous example.

    As for FAST, what a waste of taxpayers money... especially when you consider that they defend US Software companies 99% of the time... just saying....

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: subtitle on horsemeat

      "Haribo sweets are one famous example"

      Do you have any evidence for that?

      While castoreum *is* used as a food additive, it's generally a pain in the ass to obtain (cough) and hence very rare. Global usage is apparently 300 pounds per year versus 2.6 million pounds of vanillin, and I find it unlikely that Haribo would be using it in their family-sized bags of Starmix et al.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: subtitle on horsemeat

        They read it on the internet, so it is true...

        Now as for vegetarians eating refined

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