Licence Compliance: Stopping digital infringement behaviour

Repost from CJCH Consulting.

At CJCH, we have established ourselves as world leaders in an industry which is still gaining public awareness and understanding. As a Firm, we have developed an innovative and systematic approach to not simply identifying an incident of software piracy, but to manage that process through the full lifecycle of enforcement to licence compliance and the recovery of lost revenue for our clients, the copyright owner.

Getting to know the terms

Terms such as “anti-piracy” and “licence compliance” might seem to be counter-intuitive, but in reality, are quite straight forward. Anti-Piracy is the process of instituting countermeasures to piracy. In our industry, piracy does not mean eye-patches and cannon battles at sea. Rather, it refers to the reproduction or unauthorised use of someone else’s work or innovations.

Physical copyright infringement, such as reproduction of clothing, is commonly known as counterfeiting. When it comes to the digital arena, such as computer games and software, we refer to this as piracy.

Licence compliance” is a term used to describe the process which follows on from the identification of infringement activity. The licence is the right the software developers give to the users which allows them to use the product they have developed in a specific way or format. These details are usually outlined in a “ULA” or user licensing agreement. Terms will vary depending on the developer, but any user who uses these products is agreeing to these terms when they install and/or use the software. The terms usually include the number of times the product may be installed on a device or number of devices it may be installed on. They may also relate to the number of users who may use a single licence, the location the licences may be used in, or the primary function the licence may be used for, i.e. personal, academic, or commercial use.

Therefore, licence compliance is the process by which the owner of the copyright takes action to enforce their copyright and require an unauthorised user (someone who is using a fake, copied, or cracked version of their product without paying for it) to pay for the licence and usage that they have benefitted from.

What is a Raid?

In a field shrouded in misperceptions and deception, we often come across infringements that, for various reasons, such as the scope of the violation, require a more direct and tactical intervention – an on-site inspection ordered by a law-enforcement authority (often informally referred to as a Raid).

As mentioned above, copyright infringements constitute a violation of intellectual property rights. Due to the intangible nature of computer programs, there are mechanisms which allow for software infringements’ traces to be easily hidden or deleted by the infringer. This makes it very difficult for the right holder to enforce their rights and consequently could result in the infringer being able to avoid liability. 

An on-site inspection is an approach we use which helps to avoid these risks. An unexpected inspection on the premises on the infringer, ordered by a law-enforcement authority enables the right holder to obtain and/or secure the evidence of the software infringements currently being used and has proven a very effective remedy. 

How can this be implemented?

Around the world, the legislation of various nations usually provides the possibility to obtain an ex parte / Inaudita parte order (meaning it is in the interest of one of the parties to the matter) for the inspection which will be granted by the relevant authority (court, prosecutor, police…) depending on the jurisdiction. Once this order is obtained, and following the regulations of that particular jurisdiction, an inspection is conducted, usually under the supervision of local law enforcement, to inspect the premises of suspected infringements. 

Access to the premises is granted, by order of the authority, and the inspection is carried out. All computer devices and IT equipment are inspected, and evidence of unlicensed software use is gathered/or preserved.

On-site inspections are a legal process which we manage on behalf of our clients and is a service which has allowed many of our clients to expose large volumes of unlawful use of their products which have been stolen from them. 

CJCH have a dedicated on-site inspection team which are strategically placed to observe and monitor our client’s usage data. To date, they have managed the legal process relating to on-site inspections for a number of cases and have recovered in excess of €1 million in revenue for our clients (with up to a further €1 million in pending action).

Theft, Drugs and Pirates – Steve Rees the enforcer

by Alexandra Roach

 

From the South Wales Police Force and the National Crime Agency to managing the Anti-Piracy and Compliance division of CJCH Solicitors. Steve Rees shares with us the story of his career across 32 years in the Police force and his experience managing the now global AP&C department which has increased nearly 10-fold under his management since 2014.

 

As a child who played by the rules and was instinctively drawn to the unexpected, Steve Rees later found that joining the Police force felt like a natural fit. He began his career with the South Wales Police force, as all officers do, in uniform learning about the world of policing and how to deal with people from all walks of life. In time, his developing interests and his inquisitive nature lead him to pursue an investigative role as a divisional detective within the CID (Criminal Investigations Department). Over this period, he engaged in all levels of crime investigation – from thefts and assaults to armed robberies and murder.  Later, as a member of the Force Intelligence Department, operating in Cardiff, he dealt with large-scale investigations of career criminals responsible for serious offences being committed in the area.

Steve Rees’ work across the Force Intelligence Department led him to being seconded to the National Crime Squad (the forerunner of the now National Crime Agency). During this time, he would use state of the art technical equipment to target both national and international criminality, further developing his knowledge of technical and data-based systems of monitoring and regulation.  After his tenure with the NCS, surveilling and getting close-up and personal with professional criminals, Steve left the Police force and began work as the operations manager of a private investigation company where his skills were greatly welcomed.

When Steve later began his work with the Anti-piracy and Licence Compliance team at CJCH Solicitors (which at the time consisted of only 6 people) he soon found his investigative skills, knowledge of computer systems and ability to deal with all manner of people were real assets when applied to tracking down and engaging with the infringers who the team were actively pursuing. Understandably, Steve’s most current challenge has been the management of a dramatically increasing number of staff. Four years ago, the entire team comprised of Steven and five young graduates. Considering that the team now comprises of fifty-eight employees, the challenges faced as a result of such a vastly expanding department are understandable. Both Steve’s and the firm’s Senior Partner Stephen Clarke have taken great pride in watching the department flourish and celebrate its successes as it continues to expand and take on new countries and clients at an equally impressive rate.

Software Piracy and Copyright infringement dealt a heavy blow – Pirates beware

In an article released just over a week ago on the China Daily – Europe online news site, a monumental win for French based software giant, Dassault Systemes (DS) was announced.

In an ongoing battle to tackle software piracy head-on, the organisation has partnered with law firms around the world to address the growing issue of  copyright infringement in terms of commercial software. Being a client of ours, we know all too well the dedication and commitment DS shows in the fight against Software Piracy and Licence Compliance, which is why we are delighted to share the news of their recent win in collaboration with our partner law firm in Shanghai, to the tune of $2.2m in compensation.

For too long companies such as DS have suffered at the hands of online deviant behavior which shows indifference to copyright law and Intellectual Property rights. Software pirates do not realise, or do not care about, the knock on effect their infringements have on innovation and development. The costs of research and development of new software can be astronomical, and when individuals take it upon themselves to illegally access and use this software without paying for it, it detracts from the creators ability to reinvest and expand their offering. Not to mention the extreme security risk the illegal software poses to the unauthorised users who open themselves up to threats such as unregulated software which is not monitored by the developers strict quality control processes. The use of illegal and cracked versions of software also potentially expose the user to embedded threats such as malware and viruses which are often inserted into fake versions.

Our partner law firm associated with this case, Han Yuan & Partners, will be joining us in Cardiff in September. We will host them to discuss our collective innovations in the field of Anti-Piracy and Licence Compliance and how the collaboration between China and our evolving technology innovation and IP Hub here in Wales can continue to service and support the Asian and European market and beyond. Discussions will include those with local IP communities, academia and the Welsh Government.