February 24, 2006 | Suw Charman Anderson

Trading Standards get in a tizz over free software

(Via BoingBoing). It seems that the concept of giving away software and, shock! horror!, allowing other people to package that software up and then sell it on, was a bit too much for one Trading Standards officer...

A little while ago, I received an e-mail from a lady in the Trading Standards department of a large northern town. They had encountered businesses which were selling copies of Firefox, and wanted to confirm that this was in violation of our licence agreements before taking action against them. I wrote back, politely explaining the principles of copyleft

Comments (4)

  1. Steve Bowbrick:
    Mar 07, 2006 at 07:22 PM

    Fascinating collision of worldviews. I guess the larger problem for a campaigning group like ORG is that copyright in general is very poorly understood almost everywhere. After all, buying and using IP historically requires no knowledge at all of rights schemes. If public understanding of new rights models is important then it's probably time to develop a programme to get IP issues into the national curriculum, onto sixth form and FE business studies courses and elsewhere. Does ORG have an education officer? :->

  2. Suw Charman:
    Mar 07, 2006 at 09:55 PM

    One day, I would like to have a dedicated education officer. Meantime, there's just me.

  3. Tom:
    Feb 24, 2006 at 01:13 PM

    This says a lot to me.

    It's good that trading standards in the UK really want to the right thing and aren't just into protecting corporations.

    However, this particular enforcement officer clearly doesn't understand licensing laws. Most software is leased now, copying and selling CDs is legitimate for Microsoft Office and is a service provided to Universities all the time. The difference is the Universities have site licences for the software. Copying media is really crudest form of determining ownership.

    This is going to become a big problem with digital music distribution. No longer is a physical CD enough to demonstrate your right to listen to a recording. Now you need to keep a transactional history to prove ownership or the very copiable bits which make up an MP3, AAC, WMA or whatever. Try enforcing that!

    If trading standards want to get to grips with ownership and licensing of things based on IP they need to wise up and realise that physical assets mean nothing.

  4. Barry Tebb:
    Oct 30, 2009 at 08:25 PM

    I went to the 99p stores branch in Sutton Surrey to-day to return some faulty goods.I suffered a barrage of abuse from the staff-two till assistants,the manager,his deputy and the security guard.The Surrey TSO were wonderfully supportive but the ignorant and fascist manager refused to speak to them,insisting it was 'store policy'not to exchange faulty goods after 28 days when the 1997 Sale of Goods Act,citred by the TSO said I had an amazing SIX YEARS.When I phoned the 99p stores HQ they were full of apologies and said the store staff needs retraining.I think they need the SACK.How dare they abuse an OAP in front of a hundred customers and insist that their policy is that of every other shop in the area?As an NHS campaigner for a decade I am used to extremely stormy public meetings but to-day I was treated as I suspect Jews were treated in Nazi Germany.When I said that "Following orders" was the excuse of the Nazis who murdered 6 million Jews the security guard accused me of being a racist.I am married to a Sri Lankan Asian and am proud of it.I am not to be bought off by the promise of a ten pound voucher.At 68-or at any age-no-one should be subject to such harrasment.I thought Camden councillors were bad but the staff of Sutton's 99p Store make them seem like friendly teddy bears.Their prices may be low but their morals are lower.Most people would have left in tears and I very nearly did,even though I knew I was in in the right.Neither local paper was interested in the story.Surrey TSO are fantastic-I wonder why the store manager refused to speak to them.