Good common sense is all you need when it comes to software piracy. Although some people try to argue that piracy is a victimless crime, the reality is that there can be much harm to you and to your company, if you pirate software. Interestingly, when computers first came into existence hardly anyone thought about the value of software. It was generally freely distributed. As time went on, however, software became a valuable, indeed extremely valuable, part of computers. Software publishers have formed strategic alliances and have worked with the government to bring about laws that bring hefty fines and penalties against those who pirate. This is especially true in a corporate environment.
The grounds for copyright infringement are simple. According to Section 501(a) of the Copyright Act, "Anyone who violates any of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner [reproduction, adaptation, distribution to the public, public performance, public display, rental for commercial advantage or importation] is an infringer of the copyright or the right of the author..."
And the punishment for copyright infringement is stiff. In the United States, the infringer is liable for damages suffered by the copyright owner plus any profits of the infringer that are attributable to the copying or statutory damages of up to $150,000 for each work infringed.
When you combine the fines with the fact that there are new software programs that detect pirated software, it really doesn't make any sense to run the risk of pirating software.
Pirating software is an example of direct copyright infringement. But don't forget that you can get into trouble also by indirect copyright infringement. These acts, listed above in the Indirect Infringement section, involve various ways of assisting other people to get pirated software.
Here are some FAQs compiled by the SIIA (Software and Information Industry Association) that might help you answer some more questions related to software ownership:
Can I take a piece of software owned by my company and install it on my personal computer at home if instructed by my supervisor?
A good rule of thumb to follow is "one software package per computer", unless the terms of the license agreement allow for multiple use of the program. Some software publishers' licenses do allow for "remote" or "home" use of their software. If you travel or telecommute, you may be permitted to copy your software onto a second machine for use when you are not at your office computer. Check the license carefully to see if you are allowed to do this.
Is it legal to install an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) version of software on a computer other than the one that the software came with?
OEM software is only distributed when sold with specified accompanying hardware. When these programs are copied and/or sold separately from the hardware, this is a violation of the contract with the publisher, and therefore illegal.
Can I rent a piece of software from a store?
The Software Rental Amendments Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-650) prohibits the rental, leasing, or lending of software without the express permission of the copyright holder.
Can I purchase a single licensed copy of a piece of software and load it onto several machines?
This is known as "soft-lifting," which is contrary to the terms of a license agreement. This includes sharing with friends and co-workers and installing software on home/laptop computers if not allowed by the license.
Can I give or sell a "backup copy" of a licensed program to other people?
A "backup copy" can be used for "archival purposes only." This copy cannot be sold or distributed to another party without the consent of the copyright owner.
After you've familiarized yourself with this Rule, see if you can answer a few simple questions.... Please note that the Quiz is disabled in this demo.
Please note that the Quiz is disabled in this demo.