How does Software Piracy Affect Me?

M.R. Anglin

Any time that software is copied without the proper authorization, a person is committing software piracy. This act is very common, mostly because legally obtained software tends to be expensive. However, pirating software is illegal and punishable by law. In addition, there are several risks associated with using pirated software. By purchasing legal copies of software, you are protecting yourself as well as the software development industry.

Pirated software may install viruses on a computer.
Pirated software may install viruses on a computer.

When software is bought in a store or online, what is actually bought is a license to the product. This means that the user is authorized to install and use the product on a certain amount of computers, as stated in the license. When a user installs software, the computer is actually copying the program onto the hard drive. Thus, installing the software constitutes making a copy of the software.

Making unauthorized copies of software for friends is a form of copyright piracy.
Making unauthorized copies of software for friends is a form of copyright piracy.

There are several ways to commit software piracy. Among the most common is copying a software product and giving it to someone else, including letting someone install your copy of a software onto their computer. It is also considered piracy if the software you are using is rented. Some countries even consider making a copy for backup purposes illegal, but other countries don’t impose this limitation. Therefore, it is important to read the software license when you receive it.

Burning an installation disk for someone else is considered software piracy.
Burning an installation disk for someone else is considered software piracy.

Giving someone an old version of software is considered software piracy if you still own an upgraded copy of the software. This is because the license for the upgrade takes the place of the license for the outdated software. Most software licenses allow the transfer of software as long as you take certain steps. First, you must uninstall the software from the computer. Next you must transfer all the copies of the software, including upgrades and outdated copies, to the person you wish to transfer it to.

Software developers take software piracy seriously because it costs them money.
Software developers take software piracy seriously because it costs them money.

It is also possible to buy pirated software off the internet. Many internet sellers will actually provide illegally copied software as downloads or at discount prices. An illegal license can also be purchased over a network. Network licenses allow the software to be used on a certain amount of computers at a time. If the proper amount of licenses are not bought, the software could be considered pirated.

Software developers take software piracy seriously because it costs them money. The fewer people buy their software, the less money they are generating. However, this is also a problem for consumers. If software developers have to divert money to anti-piracy practices, they will have fewer resources to spend making new products. This means that it will take longer for them to come out with a new or updated product.

There are also several risks involved with buying pirated software. Many times, pirated software is a front to steal credit card information. Pirated software may also install viruses or malware on a user’s computer. There are no guides or manuals associated with these products and no technical support. You will also not be eligible for upgrades or security patches.

To avoid purchasing pirated software, follow these simple guidelines. Only buy software from an authorized seller or from the publisher itself. All new software should come with software licenses, the correct packaging, and original discs—no CD-Rs. Register your products and be sure you are obtaining the proper license for your use. Avoid discs that have software from multiple publishers on it, avoid software that is for “backup purposes only,” and if you must download a product do it from the publisher’s site.

Using pirated software can cause companies to be open to security issues.
Using pirated software can cause companies to be open to security issues.

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Discussion Comments


This is just sad.

Most people who pirate would never have bought it in the first place.

A pirated copy does not take anything away from a company. The company loses nothing.

Software piracy generates sales. In the last year, I've paid for two copies of Anno 2070, four copies of Minecraft, two copies of Left 4 Dead 2 and paid for the collectors edition of both BF3 and the upcoming BF4 after pirating those games, or the earlier version. There have been many many more purchases where a pirated copy was used as a "trial" copy.

Piracy generates free advertising. From blog posts to word of mouth, youtube reviews to getting friends to pay for accounts, piracy takes a person who would not have bought something in the first place, and allows that person to spread the word.

Anti-Piracy efforts only affect legitimate users -- Sim City, Diablo 3, Anno 2070, Skyrim, Crysis and Crysis Warhead, Assassin's Creed 2, Silent Hill 5, Gothic 4, anything GMWL, Ubisoft Online, etc., etc.


How many of you have $75,000 to spend on software? Most of you think of software piracy as stealing an $89 copy of windows.

Let's pretend you are required to know about high end software to advance your career. That software can cost a fortune. Are you still anti-piracy? Next, let's discuss the tactics of software companies.

Nowadays, software companies are major corporations that make huge profits at the cost of paying their skilled software designers next to nothing. Are you still anti-piracy?

Now let's talk about how software companies promise you their software will solve your problems, and then come loaded with bugs, and you cannot ever return your software for a full refund. In fact, there is no way to verify their claims without getting cheated out of a fortune. Are you still anti-piracy?

Lastly, let's consider that piracy made some software a huge success. The more people who learn how to use software through piracy, the more their employers are eager to purchase that software because there are a lot more potential employees from which to choose who can actually use it.

This is especially true for companies like Autodesk, Autocad and Mastercam. None of these brands can compete with others for quality, but they are at the top of sales because people who pirated them learned them and forced their employers into making purchases.

Being anti-piracy is a stance only for the ignorant who have never spent more that a few seconds analyzing the realities of the effects of piracy. Piracy greatly increases the chances of a software company's survival. Wake up!


@JaneAir - Don't fool yourself. Software companies are out to make a profit. If piracy magically stopped tomorrow, I don't think the high prices of some of these software packages would just magically come down.

Plus, I've never seen a compelling argument in any software piracy articles that proves piracy makes companies lose money. A lot of people who pirate were never going to pay for the software in the first place! So I think it's kind of a non-issue as far as profit is concerned.


I think the worst part about software piracy is that it drives up the cost of software for the rest of us. If companies didn't have to spend so much money protecting their software from piracy and didn't lose so much profit from illegal downloading, maybe software would be cheaper.


@Ted41 - Yeah, getting a computer virus or having your credit card number stolen seem like pretty compelling reasons not to pirate software to me. But some people are really into pirating, I think they do it just to do it, you know?

Because there aren't really that many compelling arguments to pirate software anymore. There are tons of freeware versions of popular software packages, for one thing. Also, a lot of software companies offer their software as a download on their website, so you don't have to go to the store.


Pirating software just isn't worth it. First of all, it's both illegal and unethical, which should be good enough reasons not to do it. But even if you don't care about that, the simple fact that pirated software often gives people computer viruses should be a good reason to just buy your software!


I think it is ridiculous that giving someone an old version of your software is piracy. My mom is using an ancient copy of a word program, and yes, I do have the updated version on my own computer.

I think that once you have purchased software you should be able to do what you want with it. Of course, this is in regards to personal use.

I figure as long as you aren't profiting from selling it, or installing it on strangers computers that it should be yours do with as you please. You paid for it.

It's not like my mother would have ever bought the program in the first place, she'd still be using the free notepad.

Can you think of any other ways that the rules against piracy have gotten to be too much?


I believe that if companies want to prevent software piracy they should stop making one size (and one price) fits all software.

I enjoy photo editing and page design, but the software to do this is in the thousands of dollars range. There is no way I could afford this for something I do as a hobby.

I think if companies want to make more money, they should release their professional grade software with fewer features for those who just want to play with it.

This may help to stop people from just ripping off the expensive suite, or borrowing a friend's copy.

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