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back to article Broker accuses FAST of scaring users off secondhand software

The Federation Against Software Theft is talking up the dangers of buying recycled software, claiming that existing laws are insufficient to protect firms that opt for recycled licences. The trade group initially weighed into the debate last week, ripping up software broker Discount Licensing's (DL) membership after it settled a …

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"FAST is yet to come across any appropriately qualified legal advisor..."

Conversely, by their own admission, FAST must be unable to say that it is NOT legal.

That sword has two edges

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Re: "FAST is yet to come across any appropriately qualified legal advisor..."

... but I bet they will be doing their best to make it so!

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Re: "FAST is yet to come across any appropriately qualified legal advisor..."

I read that effectively FAST were looking for sympathy by wringing their hands saying how powerless they were etc.etc., when in fact they could use their position to demand their (software development) members adopt standardised license agreements that are explicitly clear on recycling licenses.

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Anonymous Coward

FAST is yet to come across any appropriately qualified legal advisor that can give 100 per cent assurance that second hand software is completely infringement risk free

Hmm, that's gently attempting to skip over the fact that FACT seems to rely more on intimidation than law to make its money. To me, FAST is as much an at best semi-legal shakedown as car clamping is, so I would not consider then a terribly good source of quality assessment on legal advice. I wonder if the Law Society wouldn't take issue with that statement.

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Anonymous Coward

It can be a grey area ...

Many years ago I worked for a small software house which had developed a niche software quite, which was licensed to named customers.

One day, I got a call from someone who needed some support (product activation). When they gave their details, it turned out they weren't licensed. They had received the software in lieu of payment from a supplier of theirs.

The bottom line was, whatever they may have thought (and yes, solicitors got involved) there was no way on gods green earth they would get any support.

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Re: It can be a grey area ...

Agreed, support in my mind (if it comes with a product purchase) expires with resale, like a car warranty.

Only the original purchaser gets the benefits of any bundled services. I'd expect to have to pay for a support contract of some sort if I bought secondhand and needed one.

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Re: It can be a grey area ...

"Agreed, support in my mind (if it comes with a product purchase) expires with resale, like a car warranty."

I don't see any reason to take that line. Certainly the support for the original user should end but if you've been paid to support a specific unit for some length of time then you've been paid and who gives a toss where that unit is today, or tomorrow?

Software isn't like a car, no matter how much Bill Gates and the other copyright dinosaurs wishes it was.

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Re: It can be a grey area ...

Except the "support" in this case was product activation. You know, basically DRM. So, nothing to do with actual support.

Dunno about yourself, but I wouldn't have bought that shit in the first place, be it brand new or second hand.

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Re: It can be a grey area ...

Software isn't like a car, no matter how much Bill Gates and the other copyright dinosaurs wishes it was.

If software was like a car, you'd be able to sell it to someone and they'd be able to use it without hindrance, regardless of what Bill Gates and the other dinosaurs say about it.

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Re: It can be a grey area ...

"Agreed, support in my mind (if it comes with a product purchase) expires with resale, like a car warranty."

But almost all car warranties nowadays are transferable, even the extended ones.

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Re: It can be a grey area ...

"Agreed, support in my mind (if it comes with a product purchase) expires with resale, like a car warranty."

In Canada a car warranty is tranfered to the new owner. Why should support end with a resale? You already got your money.

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Re: It can be a grey area ...

Don't know what it's like wherever you are, but here most (if not all) car manufacturers will honour the warranty on a car however many owners it's had. And that includes their 5 year Roadside Assistance warranties.

Although when I bought my last new car, I did ask the salesman, if they were that confident of the quality and reliability of the car, why did they need to offer roadside assistance. At least he laughed.

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Re: It can be a grey area ...

support in my mind ... expires with resale, like a car warranty

Whatever the situation in your mind may be, it's not the case in the real world. Whenever I've bought second-hand cars I have had the benefit of any unexpired manufacturer's warranty. I have never been asked whether I was the original purchaser.

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Holmes

And why is that?

"FAST is yet to come across any appropriately qualified legal advisor that can give 100 per cent assurance that second hand software is completely infringement risk free," he said.

I'm sure this is in no way related to certain FAST members writing EULAs and Ts&Cs which have more lines of text than the relevant software has lines of code, with clauses which are ambiguous, not legally enforceable, and in some cases directly contradictory to other clauses in the same document.

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"FAST is yet to come across..."

Ahhh a specific instance of the general case:

"{Any person or entity} is yet to come across any appropriately qualified legal advisor that can give 100 per cent assurance that {any event or circumstance}."

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Re: "FAST is yet to come across..."

Qualified legal advisors get trained not to give 100% assurance of anything. If they do they're asking for trouble.

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Re: "FAST is yet to come across..."

This is true from other types of legal advice I've recieved not related to software.

Once you realise this premise, everything in life is about calculated risks and gambles.

Consequently, if a big player wants to sue you - regardless of your innocence or guilt - they can sue you and make it as expensive as possible in order to tip the scales in the direction of the outcome they desire; ergo, if their case has no merit, they can pressure you to settle anyway because you can't afford to fight back.

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FAST is...

primarily a shakedown operation.

As we reduced the amount of applicable software on our systems, they kept trying to jack their fees up. We told 'em where they could get off last year.

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Anonymous Coward

Fa$t are useless.

You can spend all the time you want doing audits to be accredited by them. Yet when M$ knocks on your door, unilaterally declares your licenses as fake (that "g" looks dodgy in the word "genuine", honest!), then they say "we don't recognise fast!".

Worthless.

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Unhappy

Pulling a FAST one

Why shouldn't you be able to sell on digital assets that you are no longer using? Why is this anything to do with copyright infringement? Why can software vendors lock you in and disallow transfer of ownership? It's all smelly and covered in wee if you ask me.

Software is no longer alone in this regard. Consider how you can buy a paperback book and sell it on when you're done with it. Now look at your eBook reader and tell me you can do the same (at least assuming you're using a Kindle)...

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you pays yer money you gets yer lack of choice

It's not as if no-one knows the vendor preferring business model deployed by Microsoft, Oracle, etc.

Open source software remains the ultimate client-side business model. Yeah, yeah so "AutoCAD" doesn't work on it but as Steam are demonstrating with games, it would be possible.

And yes, as Munich demonstrated it's not necessarily easy to go cold turkey - but it's possible

So either take the pain or migration or suck it up

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I'm not sure any grey areas are relevant yet...

I like to see who's behind a mob to see what they're *actually* backing.

Have a look at FAST's member list, then note their entire purpose for existing, is to further the interests of their members. That is, from the get go, they are entirely against any sort of licence shuffling, because that would inherently reduce profits of their members.

I'm not sure that it matters what is a grey area or not - not at this stage anyway - because they are NOT interested in "protecting" the rights of end licence users.

The brokers on the other hand, have the end users in their interests, they shuffle pre-loved licences around, the end users get a licence cheaper than new, and the broker gets a cut. That's a win-win for them.

This back and forth whining is normal, and is in fact a good thing. No protection means the software vendors don't make money, and a perfect copy protection system that ties to one user and one piece of hardware, for ever and ever, pisses people off, having a negative effect on sales.

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Unclear? Not overly

I didn't think it was unclear at all. As far as I've read so far the following seems to be true:

If you buy a license to a piece of software in the EU, you can sell it on in the EU.

If you buy a multi-instance license, you can't split it up and sell it in bits - its all or nothing.

You cannot import a US license into the EU and sell it - as this is an infringement of their trademarks.

What am I missing?

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Re: Unclear? Not overly

>> You cannot import a US license into the EU and sell it - as this is an infringement of their trademarks.

>> What am I missing?

I think most people think - why on earth should that be so ?

If I buy a Flurble Widget make by Flurble Inc, then it's a Flurble Widget made by Flurble Inc. No ifs, not buts, no "nut only in these countries". So Flurble charge $10 in the USA, but £15 in the UK - they're ripping off the market. If I buy one in the USA and import it - it's doesn't stop being a Flurble Widget, it doesn't cease to have been made by Flurble Inc. It's still the very same widget that rolled off their production line and could have gone to the UK or US market just by chance of which box got picked up and sent for export.

So why does a Flurble Widget, bought and paid for, cease to legally be a Flurble Widget just because I "use it in a way the manufacturer doesn't like" (ie taking it abroad) ?

Sadly, the court (and the lawmakers that made the messed up law) have confirmed that if I buy a Flurble Widget outside the Eu and import it - then Flurble Inc can declare it a breach of their trademark and so make it illegal (and liable to seizure and destruction by the authorities). So this Widget, that Flurble themselves put their name on, is not legal ?

It's a crock of crap, but that is the mess we are in !

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Re: Unclear? Not overly

You have to realise that international trade is controlled by treaties. Without appropriate treaties, you wouldn't even be allowed to import that item from the US to the EU at all.

So, the issue is one of there not being adequate IP treaties in place - and this is likely because the USA is far more extreme with their requirements than the EU. I.e. they make ridiculous requirements on their trading partners if they want access to the market.

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I didn't think FAST really cared about anything as long as the protection money keeps rolling in.

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Support?

If the product works out of the box then support is moot.

The fact that software houses don't produce quality work is the reason for support.

It's a patch for crap engineering to meet short deadlines, "good enough" quality approaches and a shifting bed of crap software it has to sit on, provide for and exist within.

When you sell a car, you get all of the repairs it's ever received. Is the same true of software?

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Can I sell my surplus software licenses? Yes you can

Q. Can I sell my surplus software licenses?

Yes, but conditions apply:

- You can’t resell OEM licenses (because they are tied to a specific machine). Although you can usually sell the whole machine!

- You can’t resell subscriptions (because they relate to a specific term)

- You can’t break up bundles

- It must be uninstalled

This is a EU ruling and only applies to licenses purchased within the EU. Similar disputes in the USA are as yet unresolved.

See more at:

http://www.itassetmanagement.net/2014/02/13/yes-you-can/

It is not in FAST's interests to provide any clarity because a) they are supported by publishers who don't want to lose revenue and b) they are supported by IP lawyers who make money from the confusion.

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