Still using good old Yellow Pages or online directories for your prospect list? If you’re using database lists as a source of sales leads you could end up in court.
Most people recognise that video piracy or illegally downloading music is wrong, but many business owners don’t realise their staff could also be breaching copyright law by using business data illegally.
Business data, such as prospect databases, is protected under the UK Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 and the European Union 1996 Directive No. 96/9/EC and using data without the owners express permission is copyright infringement which can carry severe penalties.
Most providers of business data, including Yellow Pages and Yell.com, protect their information using ‘seed’ contacts which allow the company to monitor who is using their data. Using the data for sales/marketing purposes can trigger legal action and prosecution.
Employers should be particularly vigilant that their employees are using only legitimate sources of data for marketing purposes. According to the law, ignorance is no excuse and several companies have found themselves in court as a result of their employees using contact lists that where protected by copyright law.
Insight Data, in common with most data providers, operate a seed data network. Jade Greenhow, Insight’s compliance officer, commented; “data piracy can be a real issue and we have seen cases where a sales person leaves one company and joins another, taking a prospect list with them. The new employer then uses the data, sometimes innocently, without realising they are infringing copyright and potentially facing severe legal consequences.”
It’s no surprise that courts are getting tough on copyright infringement, intellectual property and data protection. What’s more, new powers issued to the ICO (Information Commissioners Office) mean the government agency can now hand out fines of £500,000 for breaches of data protection.