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The Risks of Piracy

Don't fall prey to software piracy.

The Cost of Illegal Downloading and File-Sharing

There is a saying, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you,” but that is not necessarily true when it comes to pirated software, music, movies and other digital copyrighted works. When you receive the latest version of a software program from a friend, download software without permission or purchase it on an online auction site, it may seem to be a good idea. But what may appear to be a bargain can actually turn into a raw deal.

Software piracy is the unauthorized copying, distribution or downloading of copyrighted works and, unfortunately, it is prevalent around the world. Stealing or “pirating” commercial software, in particular, has gotten out of control and students may think using the term “sharing software” makes it all right. But it doesn’t. Here is a reality check: It’s stealing.

Downloading commercial software without a license, making copies of your new program for friends, loaning or borrowing disks or buying one software program and installing it on multiple computers is not legal or smart. Downloading commercial software without permission is breaking the law, and software piracy is subject to criminal prosecution and civil penalties.

The copyright law protects authors and publishers. Think about how you would feel when you catch someone using your work or claiming your ideas as his or her own. You wouldn’t want them to capitalize on your creative genius. That is how software engineers feel about their software products. Using illegal software puts their livelihood at risk and potentially other jobs – maybe yours – as well as new programs in the research and development stage.

In addition, there are many risks involved with buying software or downloading it online. Users of pirated software won't get upgrades, technical support, manuals or documentation. The pirated software also may contain viruses and spyware which could crash computer networks because there will be no assurance of the quality or reliability of the software.


Students may be enticed to visit online auction sites offering pirated software because it seems like they are getting a bargain, but the risks are enormous.


In essence, with pirated products, you risk wiping out your computer. You could lose everything – your class papers, your thesis, your music, photos, e-mail and other valuable data.


Why take the risk?


While the consequences of illegal downloading and file-sharing could impact the reliability of the software used for school projects, students need to know that they may be putting their future careers in jeopardy if they download and share copyrighted digital works.


Many managers (both hiring managers and supervisors) consider unethical and illegal downloading, file-sharing, and uploading attitudes and behaviors of their job candidates when making hiring decisions.

Higher education students should take note of these findings as they prepare to enter the workforce. Illegal and unethical behaviors relating to downloading and file-sharing can mean they may not get the job they want.


In addition, illegal file-sharers and downloaders should also weigh the costs to buying or sharing pirated software. A higher piracy rate means fewer jobs for graduates.


Piracy Costs
  • Your school papers, photos, music and other valuable data can be wiped out by pirated software which may contain viruses and spyware which could crash computer networks.
  • Your reputation is at stake since the potential exists for criminal prosecution and civil penalties, which get listed on your permanent record.
  • Your future is at risk. Research shows that prospective employers pay attention to how people use their computers and take improper file sharing into consideration when they make hiring decisions.
  • Your job. Someday piracy could affect YOUR job as a developer who has his or her own work stolen.
  • Upgrades and new digital works could be in jeopardy as piracy losses escalate. In 2011, Asia Pacific lost almost US$21 billion as a result of software piracy (Ninth Annual BSA Global Software Piracy Study). The Global Software Piracy Study covers all packaged software that runs on personal computers, including desktops, laptops, and ultra-portables. This includes operating systems, systems software such as databases and security packages, business applications, and consumer applications such as PC games, personal finance, and reference software. The study does not include other types of software such as that which runs on servers or mainframes or software sold as a service. Piracy prevents developers from proceeding with the research and development required for new software programs, and they have no incentive to share their work if they are not compensated.