Software Piracy Penalties



Software piracy is the illegal copying, distributing, sharing, selling or use of software, whether intentional or not. Software piracy examples include activities such as an end-user installing a single-use license on multiple computers, a holidaymaker buying a pirated copy of a piece of software in the Far East or the mass distribution of illegally obtained software.

Since there are so many types of activities that fall under the category of piracy knowing how to answer the question “what is software piracy” is something all software users should be able to do.

That’s because many people regularly commit acts of software piracy without being aware of exactly what software piracy is – or even that they are doing anything they shouldn’t be – and it’s costing IT companies big money.

Software piracy history

When thinking about how to prevent software piracy, it’s important to understand that software piracy is nothing new and that it’s continually evolving. If you had asked “what is software piracy?” in the early days of computing, you’d have discovered that the “pirates” were mostly computing enthusiasts sharing or swapping basic applications on a one-to-one basis. After all, there wasn’t too much that computers could do back then other than run basic programs and the question of how to prevent software piracy wasn’t even being asked.

As home computing became more common, and copying and sharing technologies – not to mention usage – became more sophisticated. Consequently, software piracy has ramped up to where it now costs developers and companies billions of dollars a year and the definition of what software piracy is has expanded to include everything from counterfeiting to hard disk loading.

While there have been laws in place almost from the start of the home computing age in the mid-to-late 1970s, these legal deterrents, coupled with other software piracy protection techniques, haven’t been enough to stem the tide of software piracy.

For example, the Computer Software Copyright Act of 1980 was the first to safeguard developers and their rights were boosted further when the United States Patent Office began to issue patents to developers in 1989.

The Most Common Types Of Software Piracy?

While all types of software piracy are illegal, many people would be shocked to discover that something they probably haven’t even thought about constitutes software piracy. Then there are those who understand exactly what software piracy is and indulge in activities that run counter to the law.

The former includes people who make honest (but still criminal) mistakes, such as installing a program on more computers than they are licensed to because they aren’t specifically told that they shouldn’t.

The latter includes those who operate with malicious intent to copy and distribute pirated software or seek out pirated software because they know it is cheaper than the official version.

In between, there’s a type of piracy that could be defined as “casual,” which includes the example of someone buying pirated software from an unlicensed buyer, in the Far East, for example. Even this isolated act would be defined under the banner of what software piracy is.

What are some common software piracy examples?

There are plenty of types of software piracy, some more well known than others, including:

  • Counterfeiting
  • End-user piracy
  • Internet piracy
  • Hard disk loading
  • Client-server overuse


Counterfeiting, or illegally copying and distributing or selling copyrighted material, is the first thing most people would say if they were asked what is software piracy? While there are many people who would not knowingly purchase counterfeit products, one of the challenges software developers face is that counterfeiters are skilled at producing products that closely resemble the original (genuine) products. These include license agreements manuals, registration cards and security features alongside the copy of the software program.

End-User Piracy

Another common software piracy example happens when people make copies of a piece of software or use a software licensed for a single user on multiple computers. This type of software piracy is known as end-user piracy. It also happens when people manage to take advantage of software upgrade offers, even if they don’t have a legal copy of the software to upgrade or when they use non-retail or restricted software without the correct license.

Internet Piracy

With an increasing number of people downloading software directly from a publisher’s website, they need to ensure the site they are downloading from is official rather than a pirated lookalike. That might sound obvious, but it can be easier said than done and setting up near-identical sites is just one of the common software piracy examples that can trick end-users into using pirated software unintentionally. To minimize the chances of being caught out by such software piracy examples, users should also avoid other sites where they risk downloading pirated software such as websites offering free software downloads to users in exchange for other software, auction sites that sell outdated or counterfeit software and peer-to-peer networks.

Hard Disk Loading

Another software piracy example is known as hard disk loading. This is the name given to one of the types of software piracy that happens when a business installs unauthorized copies of software onto the hard disks of any computers it sells. But they’re not being generous. Far from it. They’re trying to encourage consumers or end-users to come back to them to buy software or upgrade their existing software.

Client-Server Overuse

Similar to end-user piracy, client-server overuse is another of the types of software piracy that occurs when the number of users who are using a particular software exceeds the number of licenses a company has for it. This can happen, for example, when a program is installed on a local area network rather than an individual computer. That means instead of being limited to a single user, multiple people can use the software at the same time.


Major factors behind software piracy
Software piracy continues for several reasons, however, and is a serious problem. The
magnitude of software piracy varies in different countries. In some countries, the legal
protection for software does not exist while in some other countries laws are rarely
enforced. In addition, many buyers believe they have the right to copy the software for
which they pay a huge amount of money. In recent years, many studies and surveys
have been focused more on finding the causes of software piracy.
utilized the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) to build a model of piracy
behaviour which pointed out that an individual‟s intention towards software piracy was 6
a major factor Some key reasons behind software piracy based on different
studies are analyzed below.
2.2.3 Public awareness
Lack of awareness in proper use of software is considered to be the key point influencing software piracy. Although software industries provide information regarding copyright of software to computer users by employing licensing agreements as a means of
information during the installation process, most of the users do not even bother to
read license agreements before moving to the next step in the installation period.
Many people misuse software products. They install software in their computers and
make a copy of it and give it to others and they do not even realize that what they are
doing is illegal and against the copyright law.
High price of software
The high price of software is another factor causing software piracy. Countries with low
economies are likely to have higher piracy rates when software products are priced
higher in comparison with the developed countries. Software products developed in
economically rich countries are generally not affordable in poorer countries. The economy of any country has a strong correlation with the piracy rates. According to a global
study conducted by BSA in 33 countries as a part of the ninth annual BSA global software piracy study, piracy rate was higher in developing countries than in the developed countries [6]. The study found that computer users in developing and poorer
countries are unable to afford the higher priced software products and they look for an
alternate way to get them.
Legal enforcement
Several studies regarding software piracy have shown that the piracy rate is mostly
higher in the Asian and African countries in comparison with the countries in the North
America and Western Europe. This is because computer users in North American and
Western European countries are aware of copyright rules and laws. Copyright laws are
strictly followed in these countries. For example in the US, if any business organization 7
or individual is found guilty in copyright infringement, they will be sentenced to jail
terms of up to 5 years along with $250,000 as fines. [7, 3] Moreover, European Union
Council Directive 91/250/EEC, TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property
Rights) international agreement and WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation)
also protect computer programs under the copyright law as „literary works‟. Thus, unauthorised reproduction and distribution of such computer programs without the permission of owner leads to criminal proceeding and penalties. However, a
study suggests that where there is low probability of being caught and
penalised, an individual or business will continue using pirated software.
Social and cultural factors
It has been found that there is a strong correlation between social or cultural factors
and software piracy. These factors refer to the prevailing social structure of a country
and the attitudes shared by the members of that society. Several previous studies have
shown that collectivist-individualist aspects of the society affect the piracy rate in any
country. For example, according to a study by Kallol, Peeter and Robert
(2006), software piracy is most popular in collectivistic societies where software is purchased by an individual and is shared among other members of the society.
Pirated software on the Internet
There are millions of people around the world who use computer and the Internet on a
daily basis. Using computers in our daily lives has made our lives easier and has benefited us in many aspects but it has also brought some problems, and software piracy is
one of them. Availability of pirated software on the Internet is one of the major factors
increasing the software piracy rate globally. Pirating the software from the Internet is
termed as the Internet piracy where the Internet is used to download unauthorized
software. Access to high-speed Internet connections makes it easier to download software programs. Beside this, many illegally attached computer games are sent through
the Internet as emails, which is also a form of piracy.

What are 3 punishments for being caught using software pirating sites?U.S. Copyright Law

Copyright infringements can be punishable by up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Repeat offenders can be imprisoned for up to 10 years. Violators can also be held civilly liable for actual damages, lost profits, or statutory damages up to $150,000 per work.


Software piracy is an ever-increasing problem of the modern-day software industry. Owing to the evolution in software development and the Internet, software piracy has become a main concern for many software companies. Software companies are confronted with extremely high losses due to the piracy of software. Pirates gain a lot of money by doing business with pirated software, and they do not think what they are doing is a crime. General end-users and the community of the software are not well aware of this serious crime. Even most of the time, end-users and consumers think that it is none of their concern and not an important issue for them to worry about. If an organization is using pirated software, there is a risk of failure of the software, and it might put the organization into a big loss of risk. Open-source software is available, but some of this software needs a proper license from the concerned owner agencies and the user needs to pay for it. Most people cannot afford these license charges which become a burden on them. So they do piracy of the software. On the other hand, people use crack software (registered by the user through unfair way) for their needs as they do not have enough money to pay for licensing the software, although they are aware of the real problems that pirated software have which include upgrades are not available, no assurance of quality and reliability, no technical support, no manuals or documentation, exposure of network to security breaches, and many others.

The pirated software does not receive any technical support from the organization which is developed. Due to these reasons, software piracy has turned out to be a major concern-more emergent due to the extravagant development of the software industry and the availability of software(s) on the Internet. This paper elaborates on the awareness of piracy, policy of the licensed software, and user perspective regarding the original licensed and pirated software. A questionnaire of about 38 questions was given to the students, faculty members, and administrative staff of different intuitions, and after the collection of data, analysis was performed. These questions were designed and finalized as per the discussions of the members of the project approved by the higher education commission.

Drop your comment


Related Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *