Software Licensing and Piracy

Facts and Figures

  • Over 40% of all software in use is illegally copied.
  • Last year software piracy cost the industry $11.2 billion in lost revenue.
  • Software piracy cost 130,000 jobs in the US alone in 1996.
  • By 2005, it is estimated that number will reach 350,000.
  • Software piracy cost US businesses $6 million in fines and legal fees in 1997.

Contributing Factors to Software Piracy

  • Explosive growth in the number of people accessing the Internet.
  • Ease of access to the Internet has increased with the advances in Technology.
  • Most Internet piracy can be accomplished in one's home or office with very little risk of detection.
  • Resources are considered intangible

Channels for Piracy

  • E-Mail
  • News Groups
  • Internet Chat
  • Mail Order
  • File Transfer Protocol sites (FTP)
  • Serial Number Postings
  • World Wide Web Home Pages
  • Warez Sites – "Warez" is slang for software that has been obtained illegally - pirated.

Why is Software Piracy a Bad Idea?

  • Lack of technical support available to registered users.
  • Risk of a fatal system crash because of exposures to viruses, corrupt disks or otherwise defective software.
  • Lack of software upgrades.
  • It's illegal! Internet piracy is a form of copyright infringement.
  • Civil penalties for copyright infringement include civil injunction, actual damages or statutory damages up to $10,000 per infringement.
  • In 1997, the President signed into law the No Electronic Theft (NET) Act, making it easier to prosecute software pirates on the Internet. Now you can be prosecuted even if you do not make money from your infringement!

What are your rights to software?

  • The purchase of software only allows you to utilize that software in the manner outlined by the software publisher. The copyright does not transfer.
  • You are only allowed a certain number of copies.
  • You may only install the software on the number of machines you have licenses for.
  • You may not copy documentation.

Responsibilities as a User

  • Purchase genuine software products.
  • Read the license carefully.
  • Install software in accordance with the license agreement.

What to Watch For

  • Avoid loose or hand labeled diskettes.
  • Avoid software at prices that are "too-good-to-be true."
  • Know what is happening at your campus.
  • A company is liable for actions of their employees.
  • You don't have to be the person making the copies to be liable under the Copyright Law.

Create a Campus Policy

  • Outline what entails a license.
  • Detail that only a backup copy may be made.
  • State that documentation may not be copied.
  • Outline disciplinary action.

Perform software audits

  • Make sure all software licenses are documented and accessible.
  • Date received and installed.
  • Tag number of the workstation.
  • Program name and version.
  • Location of the computer.
  • Type of license.
  • Remove software that you no longer use.