Nature and Extent of Software Piracy
Software piracy is defined as the unlawful issuance of the software license, reproducing software without permission from the owner, and getting involved in the unlawful circulation of the software. The circulation may be intended for personal gain or in other cases for commercial purposes. Software piracy has been discovered to be a profitable business for people engaged in the crime such that organized groups in different countries have started looking for ways of continuing with it. BSA has discovered that the software that is in the market constitutes approximately 36 percent of stolen content. This is proving to be a major way through which publishers are losing revenue forcing them to hike software prices to the disadvantage of the consumers (BSA, p. 1).
Purchases of software packages for business use are accompanied by an agreement referred to as an end-user license. This license is aimed at preventing the software from being copyrighted. The license explains that the original software bought can be installed in a computer then a backup created for safety reasons in case of damage to the initial software. When individuals install new software, It is assumed that they have agreed to the terms of the license.
Some of the common software piracies include soft lifting, online piracy, counterfeiting, and hard-disk loading. Soft lifting occurs when an individual borrows and installs software from a friend. Online software piracy is the process of downloading software from the internet without permission and using it. Counterfeiting occurs when individuals duplicate the software and distribute them in the market for sale while hard-disk loading is the crime of installing and eventually selling software copies without permission on computers that initially did not have the software (Microsoft, p. 2).
Problems/Effects of Software Piracy
Software piracy has effects on both the software developers and the users. Most of these effects are problems businesses and users experience resulting from the crime. One of the effects of software piracy on the users is that the programs may reduce productivity. According to research that has been conducted by experts, pirated software is comprised of programs that are either partially developed or damaged. When used, such programs do not function as expected hence they inconvenience users in their work. Users of illegal software are normally barred from accessing services such as material for instruction, product support, or relatively cheap upgrading services. Individuals or businesses that use such kinds of software are also at the risk of facing legal sanctions since software policy is illegal. There is also the risk of transmission of viruses through pirated software. Computer viruses are known to bring about serious consequences on individual users or large organizations. A sure of avoiding viruses are using legitimate software whose sources are trusted (Leinss, p. 6).
One of the most devastating effects of software piracy to the developers is that it causes loss of revenue for companies that are venturing into the industry. This is a serious blow to such companies because they rely on the revenue they get to come up with innovations that enable them to make a profit. The result is that such companies find it difficult to sustain their activities and they might eventually collapse. There is also cost implication for companies in their attempts to deal with software piracy problems. The companies are compelled to develop dongles which are expensive and add up to the cost of producing a copy of the program. Dongles also have a disadvantageous limitation in that they cannot be distributed through the internet since they have to be shipped to the customers for them to be in operation. When copy protection procedures are complicated, this strains the users and affects their performance negatively.
Attempts by Companies to Deal with Software Piracy
Companies have used and are continuing to use different strategies to deal with the problem of software piracy. For example, some companies have decided to include sophisticated software in their programs to safeguard them against software piracy. For instance, Microsoft has initiated an activation procedure for with use their windows XP. The user is required to activate this program once every month by either using the internet or via mobile phone. The activation process involves Windows XP conducting scrutiny of the system of the user after which a hardware value hash is generated. Microsoft then activates the XP based on the CD key and hash key accompanying the main key. The windows XP has inbuilt checks that monitor the changes being made. Users who make any changes on the XP have to reactivate it by giving explanations of why they need reactivation.
The second mechanism that companies are using to fight software piracy is SIIA raids. SIIA has toll-free lines through which anonymous informants can report software piracy cases. Once SIIA receives the information, it launches investigations to establish the number of software copies in use and the ones that are registered. If a difference in numbers is detected, legal actions take the course. Voluntary audit requests are sent to the suspected companies and if they decline to cooperate, a forced audit is conducted. SIIA invades the suspected companies and goes through all the software and if pirated software is found, prosecution follows (Leinss, p. 7).
Some organizations are doing quite a lot to fight software piracy than others. Some organizations have realized how serious software piracy is and the negative impact it has on users and developers. An example is Microsoft which has been working hard to ensure that software piracy is dealt with effectively. The company is committed to eliminating the problem by using mechanisms such as regular activation of programs. Its mechanism is more effective since it can be done over the phone or the internet. Other companies such as SIIA are putting efforts to deal with the problem but definitely, some companies are doing more than others to fight software piracy.
Effects of Software Piracy on the Technology Industry
Software piracy has numerous negative implications whose effect has been felt by the technology industry. Software piracy has forced companies operating in the technology industry to increase prices for their customers. This is because they incur high losses and they have to remain in the market. They are therefore left with no other alternative other than raising their prices. Making a profit is the drive of any company and if a company realizes that it is not making a profit, it is no longer interested in the business. Software companies are not motivated to develop new software through innovation because of software piracy. Lack of innovations in the technology industry is a problem that can solely be blamed on software piracy. Companies in the technology industry are also spending a lot of time-fighting software piracy by initiating legal suits against those who violate copyright rules. These procedures eventually generate losses to the companies because of their financial implications.
- BSA. Software Piracy. 2011.
- Leinss, Adam. The Effects of Software Piracy on Consumers and Software Developers. n.d. 2011.
- Microsoft. Protect Yourself from Piracy. 2011.