Types of software piracy

Pirated software gets into the market, and onto computers, in numerous ways — and often the users of pirated software don’t even realize they are breaking the law. Being familiar with the different types of software piracy can protect you from potential bugs, system crashes, and viruses that may be the consequence of using pirated software.

Illegally copied and sold software is not eligible for support, training, or upgrades. You may not be able to register it, so it may not work properly. And if a vendor is willing to sell you something they don’t have the right to sell, you have to wonder what else might get installed on your computer with the software you think you’re getting.

End-user piracy

Many people are unknowingly guilty of end-user piracy. For instance, when company employees make copies of software or share an installation CD without buying new licenses, or when an end user send his keys and/or licenses to a friend, this would be end-user piracy. Without the right license in place, you are not operating within the law. Furthermore, you are ineligible for support, training, or upgrades.

Here are some examples of how end-user piracy can happen:

  • Using one licensed copy to install a program on multiple computers or servers.
  • Copying disks for installation and distribution.
  • Acquiring academic or other restricted software to use for an unqualified purpose.
  • Swapping disks inside or outside of the workplace.

These risks are easily avoided once they are recognized. Ensure your company knows the risks of inadvertently making unlicensed copies of software.

Hard-disk loading

This occurs when a business that sells new computers loads illegal copies of software onto the hard disk to make the purchase of machines more attractive. VARs (value added resellers) must be diligent to avoid installing unlicensed software when developing and implementing enterprise solutions in the workplace. When your computers have pirated software on them, they are not eligible for support, training, or upgrades — meaning you could find yourself having to buy all new software at some point in the future when it’s not budgeted.

Internet piracy

This occurs when software is illegally downloaded from the Internet. The only legitimate way to purchase Reality XP software for download is through the Reality Store.

Pirate websites often offer free downloads in exchange for other uploaded programs — actually compounding the problem, as the new uploads are now available as pirated software. If you upload your own properly licensed software in return for other downloads, you are unwittingly becoming a software pirate yourself. Here are some types of pirate websites:

  • Online distributors offering special deals supposedly on behalf of the software publisher, such as inventory liquidation or bankruptcy sales.
  • Internet auction sites that offer counterfeit, out-of-channel, or otherwise pirated software.
  • Peer-to-peer networks that enable unauthorized transfer of copyrighted programs (if it’s an upload of someone else’s software, it’s probably illegal).
  • Internet Usenet news groups than permit downlading binaries.

Software obtained through these channels has a good chance of being faulty, impossible to register (which could make it unusable), and infected with spyware or viruses. You can normally guess that the offers are illegal by the price — if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Software counterfeiting

This occurs when pirates deliberately and illegally duplicate and sell copyrighted material, often making it appear to their customers that they are purchasing an authentic product. Software counterfeiting can come as packaged software or downloadable items. It is common for pirates to market and sell counterfeit copies of the software CDs along with reproduced packaging, manuals, license agreements, labels, registration cards, and security features.