This week's BSA-assisted raid in Hamilton was the first local action against illegal software distribution over the Internet - but it is unlikely to be the last.
Business Software Alliance spokesman Aaron Pederson says the BSA has a list of as many as 10 "possibly suspect" bulletin board systems as a result of a police raid in Takapuna.
"Certainly we're aware of other cases of Internet piracy," says Pederson. "But pursuing Internet piracy is more difficult than other prosecutions. We first have to establish two things. Is someone doing something illegal? And who is the physical person behind the BBS or server?
"The investigations tend to take longer, too. The Bak case [in which a Queen Street retailer was prosecuted for selling pirated software on CD] was completed in about two weeks, but this Hamilton case has taken quite a bit longer."
In the Hamilton case, the ISP, which Pederson says cannot be identified until police examine evidence seized in a search "and decide what the charges are", approached the BSA when it discovered a customer was operating "an Internet bulletin board on breach of copyright. They believed the subscriber was allowing users to connect to his ftp server and download unauthorised copies of BSA member software."
The BSA had already received allegations that an individual in Hamilton was illegally burning and distributing CDs containing pirated software and, says Pederson, concluded that the same person was involved in the ISP case.
Pederson says he is not familiar with complaints laid with the police by the Internet Group, whose director Tim Wood has previously expressed frustration at the difficulty of getting action against offenders. Ihug suspected that both a former customer and a man thought to have breached the ISP's security were running "warez servers" but no prosecutions have resulted.
Pederson says that the BSA's overseas experience indicate that online software piracy is often associated with computer trespass or online pornography. He says it is a difficult area for the police to cover.
"One of the difficulties if people simply call the police is a lack of resources - and perhaps the technical capability - to follow up on these complaints. When we get involved we do a lot of investigating - we prepare the case, basically."