Software Piracy and Methods of Combating It
Software piracy refers to a criminal act in which a software program under copyright is reproduced and distributed. Piracy and illegal copying affects the software developers, users and distributors. For users, it poses an increased risk for the spreading of viruses, lack of customer support, which means users cannot use the program to its full potential, no warranty, less reliable, and moral issues such as criminal charges, fines, or prosecution. It also affects software developers through the loss of profit and reduced sales, less user feedback in order to research and improve the software program, and increased prices in programs.
Types of software piracy
+ End User Copying: The reproduction of software for lending, or copying software for friends. E.g Taking a copy of a commercial software program and copying it onto a CD for a friend.
+ Counterfeiting: This refers to reproducing original software programs and reselling them as original copies, including packaging and labels. E.g Making a copy of an original software product, and reproducing the labels and packaging to make it seem like the original copy and selling it to the public.
+ Online Piracy: This refers to downloading illegal copies of the software via the internet which has been made available to the public . E.g Downloading a full game from a 'warez' site or network.
+ Mischannelling: This is software with discounted licenses that is sold as a fully licensed product. E.g A teacher buying software at a discounted price then selling it for the the price of the fully licensed product.
+ Hard disk loading: This is when software programs are installed onto the computer which they do not have licenses for. Computers with the software program must have the disk or manuals included. E.g Installing a single-user licensed product onto more than one computer.
Combating software piracy
In order to decrease the occurrence of software piracy several actions can be taken such as education, public policy, enforcement, and security. Education combats software piracy, as users are taught about software copyright laws, its immorality, restrictions and offense charges. Public policy refers to the government implementing policies in order to reduce software piracy. Enforcement refers to the punishment or charges given to the individuals who support software piracy. These include fines and imprisonment. An example of enforcement includes fines of $500 towards individuals for each unauthorized copy, with a maximum fine of $60 500. If the individual is not a first time offender, they may be imprisoned for 5 years. Companies on the other hand, are charged more, $2500 for each unauthorized copy up to a maximum of $302 500. Security refers to ways in which it restricts software piracy. This includes requiring to register products, or else they will be unusable, such as the 30 day period with Microsoft Word 2003. Security within the packaging can also be used, such as holograms and heat sensitive inks, which are difficult to reproduce.