Intellectual Property - Software Piracy  
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Study Guide

    What is Software Piracy ?

    Software Piracy comes in many forms,however the same principle. The software is being copied or used in a way that violates the terms of service. This often is cited as a cause for low sales of a piece of software or poor profits when the software itself is very popular.

    You can read about the various kinds of piracy here.

    Here is another good link about software piracy.

    What are the Effects of Software Piracy?

    Software Piracy is creditied with billions of dollars loss to the software industry by the Business Software Alliance, who studies software piracy extensively. By removing revenue from the developers, jobs are lost and there is less incentive to create new software.

    Why is it Debated?

    There are however, two sides to the issue of software piracy. There are corporations like Microsoft, Apple, Nortel, and many others who want to be paid for their product. On the other side are two different groups, whose members may overlap. First, are the people who believe that all information should be free and all programming should be open source. They belive that this will spark industry creativity instead of stifling it as many corporations fear. Additionally they argue that personal backups, and being able to resell software as long as you are not still using it should always be legal regardless of what a company wishes to say. Things like Microsoft's policy on OEM transfer, fuel these arguments. Secondly, are those who argue that software piracy is not truly an issue that deserves to be credited with those billions of dollars loss. The arguments range from software has simply become far too overpriced, to the idea that if someone pirates a copy of software they would not have bought the software to begin with. College students are often in possession of large quantities of illegal software, and are used as an example case for people who would not likely buy or be able to afford the software legitimately.

    How Ccan I Tell if My Software is Pirated?

    Not all pirated software is obvious. While the burned cd with the handwritten label should definately be stayed away from- there are those who try to pass off a pirated copy as legitimate. Microsoft offers a page here to help determine if your version of their products are legitimate. However, for everything else, a really good tool is to use your common sense:

    • 1. If it sounds too good to be true- then it is.
    • 2. Why would random joe on ebay be able to sell you new copies of software for so much less than any known retailer? He isn't going to take a loss becuase he feels generous.
    • 3. Always check the box and labels - often a counterfit copy isn't exact to a real one. They can however be difficult to distinguish.
    • 4. Check the terms of service and liscence. Yes, the thing you click "I agree" on usually without reading. Even if your software is the original copy it may still not be legal for you to own.

    What are My Alternatives to Pirated Software?

    When doing without isn't an option, there are several things you can do to keep yourself on the legal side and still get what you need.

    • 1. University labs and library computers. These often have a great deal of software on them for your use.
    • 2. Use a friend's computer if you can. While you shouldn't copy the software to your machine, asking your friend to use his computer to do your work doesn't invoke copyright infringement.
    • 3. Open source or free alternatives- many popular pirated programs like Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Word have alternatives like Open Office and GIMP. There are too many to list here and most do well for general use.
    • 4. Cheap or student versions of the program from the manufacturer- Check their website for student discounts, or light versions of the program that are cheaper. Your local campus bookstore may also be able to get software at an educational discount
    • ..

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