Length: 1865 words (5.3 double-spaced pages)
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Many people these days are guilty of being ‘software pirates’. They justify their actions by claiming they are stealing from the huge corporate company’s that are just out there to make a buck and don’t care about their customers. This viewpoint, however, overlooks the real fact that it is such actions that what is actually hurting customers and those who are law abiding citizens.
“Software piracy is the unauthorized copying or distribution of copyrighted software. This can be done by copying, downloading, sharing, selling, or installing multiple copies onto personal or work computers.” (What is Software Piracy?) The whole idea behind software piracy is that you are purchasing a, normally, single license copy to use that company’s product on your computer. You are not just purchasing the software itself, which tends to make some people not realize that some of their actions could be a form of software piracy and not even know it.
Software piracy in its entirety is unethical, let alone just plain illegal. Even though it is illegal, there are still millions of people throughout the world that are guilty of being software pirates. Not only does this affect the company itself that is having their software stolen from them, but it affects other companies as well as the loyal customers who actually purchase their products as intended.
There are four main types of software piracy that needs to be looked at more in depth to really understand why and how this is happening. The first form is considered ‘End User Piracy’. A Microsoft definition for end user piracy is, “End-user copying is a common type of piracy. It happens when individuals and businesses make copies of software without a license to do so. People may copy a program and give it to their friends without realizing that this is software piracy. Sometimes an organization will install software on more computers than its licenses allow.” (What is Software Piracy?)
Looking at this definition you may realize this happening around you often. A lot of businesses are especially guilty of installing more copies of a licensed piece of software on work computers than were originally intended. This is what really does not make sense to myself, as most companies would and should want to be legit in their dealings within the work place. Being caught for doing something like this could lead to huge financial costs as well as even give them a bad name to the public eye.
Why risk such a thing?
Next we have the form of piracy called counterfeiting. “Counterfeiting means duplicating and distributing imitation software on a large scale. This is a sophisticated activity and has close links to organized crime. It is extremely difficult to tell the difference between genuine and counterfeit software, and the Internet has made it easier for buyers to be deceived. When you buy online, you cannot see your goods until they are delivered - if they arrive at all. Clever counterfeiters can even fool resellers, who buy fake goods and distribute them without suspecting that anything is wrong.” (What is Software Piracy?)
A lot of third world countries are dealing with this especially. Due to the United States not having any jurisdiction across seas, these places are able to make these fake and counterfeit software copies and then just resell them on the streets. Some of the biggest offending countries have been contacted by the US in an attempt to thwart such dealings, but this does not get very far. In Japan, there is software counterfeiting shops that will get shut down by the local police force. They just basically get handed a fine and either have their current stock taken, or are told to leave the area. The very next day though, these same people are back up in another location and are again selling their products.
This form of software piracy is very hard to control and is probably the biggest form of financial lost for companies such as Adobe and Microsoft who are target the most. Will there ever be a way to stop such a large form of piracy? Personally I feel that there is not going to be any easy way to stop this. No matter what Microsoft or Adobe or any other company does to try and protect their software, there will be someone out there who finds a way around it and will continue to make these counterfeit copies and make their living off selling them.
Another largely growing form of piracy is ‘internet piracy’. “This occurs when software is downloaded from the Internet…Internet piracy can take the following forms: Pirate websites that make software available for free download or in exchange for uploaded programs; Internet auction sites that offer counterfeit, out-of-channel, infringing copyright software; Peer-to-Peer networks that enable unauthorized transfer of copyrighted programs.” (Piracy in general)
The internet is a huge and wide source of information for anything you can imagine. However, it is also a huge source for illegal activities such as software piracy. Everyday there are websites and hosts that are being shut down due to having illegal copies of software available from them for downloading. You also can take into account how the speed of the internet continues to grow more and more. With this, it allows for people to quickly get their hands on something in a matter of minutes. Back when the internet was a lot slower, people were less likely to download such illegal copies of software. They would have rather just gone out and purchased a legit copy they knew would work and was backed up by the company itself due to being legit. Now with the speed increase, people can download cracked and hacked copies of software, and should one source not work, they can find another one and download in a matter of minutes until they find a working copy.
The last form of software piracy to be looked at is hard disk loading. “This happens when builders of computer systems sell PCs with unlicensed software pre-installed. These dealers use one copy of a software program but install it illegally on many machines. The original disks and the documents that should come with the PC are often missing or incomplete. If they are supplied, they frequently turn out to be counterfeit.” (What is Software Piracy?)
This form of piracy is not only costing the loss of huge amounts of money for corporations like Microsoft, but it is also allowing for the culprits to make money off of selling these machines loaded with illegal copies of software. According to CNN “The illegal practice of hard disk loading is rapidly becoming the number one issue for Microsoft’s channel partners, overtaking pirated software as a top revenue stealer.” (Hailstone) This just shows how hard disk loading, a form of piracy in itself, is becoming a huge deal and actions are being taken to stop this from happening.
The big question to ask now is why do people perform these types of software piracy? Many people will give different answers when asked why they steal software, or borrow copies of CD’s from friends instead of going out and buying a real copy themselves. There is one main answer that tends to show up a lot when asked however, and that is the plain and simple truth of money. Microsoft executive Michala Alexander makes a perfect statement when saying “it’s just because people want what they can get for the cheapest price.” (Carter) This is especially true for people who are able to get their hands on free copies of software titles. Some may even go as far to say that if it is so easy to get these software titles for free then how can it be so wrong? Or they may feel that the company doesn’t deserve their money if they allowed their software to be cracked so easily.
Personally, I feel the biggest reason for software piracy and why people continue to do this is the fact that corporations just have not found what it takes to make consumers happy. Should they listen to what people are saying about software prices being so high, and everything else that goes along with that, maybe they would realize they need to do something to make people want to purchase their products.
Software piracy is illegal. It is wrong, unethical and people need to realize this. Unfortunately the world revolves around money and people are going to do whatever they can to spend as little as possible. If end users are able to get illegal copies of software discretely with little to no chance of ever getting caught, then they are going to. They are going to take the opportunity to save that couple hundred dollars to spend on food or clothing. It doesn’t make it right to steal software, but by no means is software piracy going to slow down unless something huge changes.
Before concluding everything, I would like to make one correction or state a personal opinion on the whole term ‘software-piracy’. Software Piracy is a term thrown around loosely. I feel it is a controversial term however, as it is such a negative and overblown description. This term implies that people who use illegal copies of software are considered ‘pirates’. Pirates, however, were violent gangs that would raid ships at sea to steal and plunder their goods and money. Unauthorized copying is what could and should be used to describe this form of illegal activity. I don’t believe these people who are stealing software are right in their doings, but I do feel that giving them a term such as a ‘pirate’ is a little steep.
To conclude this subject, there is a lot to be looked at. Unauthorized copying is a huge issue with the revenue loss to many corporations in the millions and even billions. Through the act of software piracy, people are illegally able to get their hands on property that is not their own, and use it without the consent of the publisher of the product. Unfortunately there is not much that can be done to stop this from happening. With technology growing faster and more efficiently, people will constantly be able to find ways around copyright protections and illegally share software.
The only way to fight against this is to make it more appealing for end users to actually want to purchase the software legitimately. Until this happens though, we will continue to constantly be hearing on the news about people and organizations getting in trouble for software piracy, and the problem will just continue to grow.
Carter, Ryan. "Why do people pirate software?." The Unofficial
Microsoft Web Log. 06 June 2006. 9 Dec 2007
Hailstone, Laura. "Microsoft slams hard disk loading." 30 Apr
2007. CNN. 9 Dec 2007
"Piracy in general." 2007. Graphisoft. 3 Dec 2007
"What is Software Piracy?" 2007. Business Software Alliance.
9 Dec 2007
"What is Software Piracy?" Microsoft. 9 Dec 2007