Quizzes   Games   Partners   BSA Members

Select Language:

Cyber Safety Glossary

Software Piracy

Also Known As:

Unlicensed software use, Pirated software, Ripped software, Counterfeit software, Warez.

The illegal use and/or distribution of software protected under intellectual property laws. Software piracy may take many forms:

End-user piracy occurs when an individual or organization reproduces and/or uses unlicensed copies of software for its operations.

Client-server overuse
occurs when the number of users connected to or accessing one server exceed the total number defined in the license agreement.

is the illegal duplication of software with the intent of directly imitating the copyrighted product.

Hard-disk loading
occurs when a computer hardware reseller loads unauthorized copies of software onto the machines it sells.

Online software theft
occurs when individuals download unauthorized copies of software from the Internet.

License misuse
occurs when software is distributed in channels outside those allowed by the license, or used in ways restricted by the license.

How to Recognize This Threat:
Pirated software is often peddled through spam email messages, bogus Web sites, auction sites, and storefront operations. Spam messages that offer computer software at unbelievably low prices are suspect. Compilations of software titles from different manufacturers, or software labeled "backup" copies, are a clear indication that the software is not legitimate. When the pirated software does not run properly, causes compatibility issues, and has no technical support or update capabilities, purchasers find to their dismay they have thrown their money down the drain.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is the standard computer language that allows computers to exchange files quickly and easily, including the uploading and downloading of software programs. FTP sites can contain enormous quantities of program files, along with other information. When exploited by software pirates, FTP sites facilitate the distribution of large volumes of copyrighted software programs.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) technology allows users to locate, share, and distribute information between workstations without connecting to a central server. Although P2P has many legitimate uses, it has been subject to abuse among pirates to become one of the more popular online methods used to share copyrighted materials illegally.

What Should I Do:
Purchase computer software from authorized dealers. If the online dealer seeking to sell you software isn't listed on that software manufacturer's Web site, then beware. Do your homework. Look for a feedback section on the site and look for comments on the seller based on previous transactions. Get the seller's address. That way, you can check the merchant's record. If you can't find a physical address, then be suspicious. Look for a trust mark from a reputable organization. Keep receipts. Print a copy of your order number and sales confirmation and keep them. If a computer software deal looks too good to be true, it usually is.

Never download copyrighted material. This is against international law. Anyone participating is liable and can be charged in criminal and civil proceedings.