What is piracy? | FAST

What is piracy?

Software piracy – perhaps simply described as software theft – is the unauthorised copying or distribution of copyright protected software.

In Britain it is estimated that approximately 27% of software in use is illegal. Reducing software piracy could create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, billions in information technology (IT) spending and economic growth, and new tax revenues to support local services.* It is not just the IT industry that loses out to software thieves, the end–user is often left in a vulnerable position with no access to technical support, no information regarding upgrades and often incomplete or virus contaminated products on their computers. The illegal software trade is worth hundreds of millions of pounds in the domestic market alone. Unscrupulous dealers and individuals misuse their computer skills, bypassing the software security, then selling on the illegal product to others, or simply giving valuable software away on the internet.

Most do this for money and with no development or manufacturing costs, profits can be substantial. The few that don't do this for money distribute infringing software for malicious reasons, to damage a publisher's reputation and profitability.

Activities are justified with claims that publishers make too much money by over–pricing their products, justifying their own actions by claiming they are providing a public service.

A relatively small number of publishers make large profits. Those that do have spent many years developing products that are outstanding in their field. The profits that are made are then invested in further development.

Many software companies are small with limited customer bases. The release of a new product is an important event on which many jobs may depend. It is not only the publishers that suffer from piracy, but the distributors, retailers and finally the consumer or business that does not have the genuine product. Theft benefits the thief, nobody else!

There are many forms of software theft including the following:

  • Professional counterfeits – look the same as genuine boxed products
  • Quasi counterfeits – try to look like the genuine product but usually fail in the presentation
  • CD Compilation disks – several programs copied onto one disk
  • Hard Disk Loaders – dealers who load a copy of software onto hardware but do not supply disks, licences, manuals and Certificates of Authenticity etc
  • Markets/Computer Fairs – individuals selling obvious copies of computer programs
  • Peer to Peer/IRC – individuals sharing software on the internet
  • Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) irregularity – software sold without a licence or the necessary hardware
  • Internet sites – downloading / uploading illegal software and utilities, downloading legitimate freeware and shareware in breach of the licence,
  • Unlicensed Corporate Use – number of installations exceeds number of licences, number of users able to access software on a server exceeds the number of licences, software transferred from one company to another outside terms of the licence, installation of employees’ own software onto company devices, different company name on opening screen etc

How to avoid buying pirate software

If you are aware, or suspect that you know, of any of the above activities, The Federation would be very pleased to hear from you. You can contact us in complete confidence by clicking here.

*  BSA survey ‘Benefits from Lowering PC Software Piracy In the United Kingdom’ – January 2008