EXCLUSIVE: In an unprecedented move, Waves Audio Ltd has instigated a series of investigations aimed at discovering and collecting payment from unauthorised users of its software, Pro Sound News Europe has learned. Employing undercover agents, the company has obtained video evidence and is now threatening court action to back up its claims for payments plus damages. Waves, with offices in Tel-Aviv and the US, is also expected to roll out the action globally, writes Gez Kahan.
The operation began earlier this year as teams of investigators posing as potential clients visited facilities in the UK and US to gather evidence, secretly filming studio owners and engineers demonstrating or discussing _cracked_ copies of Waves plug-ins. A prominent education establishment is also believed to be implicated.
Users later received an official letter from Waves_s collection agents advising them of intent to prosecute, followed by an offer to settle out of court for a sum several times in excess of the list price of the item concerned. The story first surfaced through forum chatter on the gearslutz.com website.
Both Waves and its collection agents in the UK and the USA have confirmed that the investigations have taken place and that this is part of BanPiracy, a continuing global campaign, although PSNE has not yet had definite proof of investigations in other territories. The agents also confirmed that steps are being taken to secure both payment for the licences and penalties for the alleged infringements but refused to divulge how many potential actions are in progress.
At least six well-known UK studios are known to be involved. Studio owners, who do not wish to be named, have told PSNE that the investigations took place during February to April this year, with solicitors_ letters arriving some two to three months later. It is not believed that any cases have yet come to court.