Did you know that if you give one of your software CDs to a friend and allow them to install it on their computer...you're breaking Federal laws?
I'm sure there are many of you reading this and thinking "Well, Duh! Of course I know that!" But you'd be amazed at how many support posts I see in a month where someone is asking to use someone else's CDs or upset because the CD they borrowed or loaned out is no longer working properly. Someone will inform them that what they are doing is illegal and they are quite surprised. "I didn't know that was illegal!" It is!
When you purchase software, you are purchasing a license to use a copy of the software under specific rules set forth in the license agreement. You know...that page of text that you click I Agree when you install your software. Very few people actually read what they are agreeing to. But know that you can easily click within that text box, hit Ctrl + A to select all and then paste all the text into a Word doc so you can more easily read it and have the details to refer to, if needed, in the future.
Many licenses also state that you are not allowed to install the software on more than one computer. If you install it on two computers, that might also be illegal. That's why it is important to read the license to understand the specifications of each license. In many cases, Microsoft Office allows you to install one copy on a main PC and install it again on a mobile device. This is to allow a user to have a copy on their main system, but to also have a copy on maybe a laptop so they can travel with their information, too. However, both versions are to be used by the same user who purchased the software. Again, you need to read the license for the software you have to decipher exactly what is permitted.
One of the most common license errors is when people take their old OEM software CDs and install the program on another computer. OEM software is Original Equipment
Manufacturer software. OEM software comes with your computer and is not
licensed to you, but is licensed to the computer on which it was installed. This means, if your original computer dies, you cannot install that same software on another system because
the computer that owned the rights is now dead.
But some software pirates get around
that legal issue by selling their OEM software along with a small piece of
hardware from the dead computer. The reason being that the license states
that OEM software must remain with the original PC components and be installed
on a system that contains original components (or some such legalese).
Anyway, the point is that the license is written meaning that, it is okay to
upgrade your computer, as long as you don't completely change it. So they
sell you a memory chip or something and tell you that, if you want to make
it legal, you need to install the memory chip and then you do have some
of the original components of the original computer and that this fact will keep you legal. I'd say the jury is out on that trick.
See, you could sell the whole computer with the software and that is okay.
But since the computer is dead, they just sell you some of its original parts.
Companies have to pay more to try to come up with better/stronger
ways to protect their software from piracy, so they have to charge more. If no one
swiped the software, prices would be cheaper. It's like any store. If a store doesn't have to spend a fortune on security, they won't have to charge as
much for merchandise. But if security costs go up, their overhead goes up
and they have to charge more just to stay in business.
complain about having to activate their software and what a pain it is to do.
But when people disregard the license agreement by sharing software, the anti-piracy devices get more complex to try to combat the problem. The more people who break the laws...the stronger the laws will get
and the cost of implementing those laws goes up. It's a vicious circle because there's always someone who wants to take advantage of a freebie if they can get away with it. The people following the rules are usually the ones who end up paying the price...as is usually the case in life!
Now you might be thinking..."I'm just one person, no one will care if I have illegal software." Tell that to the many teens and grandmothers who were arrested for sharing copyrighted music a few years ago! The music industry cracked down and traced the little guys who were breaking copyright licenses and dragged them into court. And now the movie industry is working on a similar crack down regarding DVD sharing.
And did you know that you can easily report someone who you know to be using illegal software? Many of the top software companies have formed an organization to combat piracy. Ticked off at your ex-boss for firing you? Yes, you can report them to BSA. The Business Software Alliance (http://www.bsa.org) provides a simple reporting site where you can anonymously turn in a report on anyone: https://reporting.bsa.org/usa/. Their news room is loaded with details of their legal busts: "Washington, D.C., (Wednesday, December 7, 2005) – The Business Software Alliance (BSA), a watchdog group representing the nation's leading software manufacturers, today announced that five Los Angeles-area organizations paid BSA a combined total of $555,403.17 to settle claims that they had unlicensed copies of software programs installed on office computers."
As one of BSA's campaigns stated...<sarcasm>if you don't have any disgruntled employees and everyone likes you, you probably have nothing to worry about.</sarcasm>
This article is not meant to wag a finger at you...we'll leave that to the software companies. It's just important to understand that it is illegal to share software. We'd hate to see you get busted out of ignorance!
If you're a business owner, or even an individual, who worries that there might be illegal software (not properly licensed) on your computer, there are companies who will charge you thousands of dollars to run reports on your system. But Greg Chapman has built a script, Domain Report Manager, which will run a report for you...even on very large networks in a very short time...and it's free! It will provide you with a report showing all the software installed on all your computers. Great for managing your assets and making sure you won't have Federal marshals knocking on your door!