Software Piracy: A Big Crime With Big Consequences


Imaging for a moment that you come across an advertisement saying you can
meet up with an individual who will break into a store, disarm all of the alarms
and will hold the door open for you as you walk inside and take anything you
wish. This criminal offence occurs every day on computer systems around the
world including the internet. This is a very serious problem and is very
difficult to circumvent. Every computer user is both tempted and immersed in
software piracy in its many forms. One of the most disturbing facts behind this
crime is that many people who participate in the distribution of commercial
software don\'t even know they are committing a crime. Software piracy is a very
serious and widespread crime that must be acknowledged and dealt with.
Software piracy is the unauthorized duplication and or distribution of
copyrighted programs. There are two ways to be involved in software piracy.
The first is facilitation. Facilitation is the deliberate copying of copyrighted
software and distributing it. An example would be an MIT student named David
LaMacchia. This individual served and maintained a computer that was connected
to the internet that offered it\'s users more than one million dollars worth of
software \'free of charge.\' Mr. LaMacchia was caught by the authorities and was
acquitted of this piracy due to the lack of legal standards for this crime.
Another example is off local bulletin board systems. Many are run out of the
offenders homes with just a phone line, a computer and a modem. Here members of
this service can send and receive pirated software (otherwise known as \'warez\')
as their own pace and leisure. There are not just one or two of these bulletin
boards around there are in fact many. Most reside in large cities and the
offenders are in most cases minors. As the computer gains a more stable hold on
our society these bulletin boards are replaced by the ones that are linked to
the internet. By this individuals can anonymously put out copyrighted software
for the use of any anonymous user of the internet such as the type of system
that Mr. LaMacchia ran. The second way to be involved in software piracy is to
be on the receiving end. These individuals can be anyone. All they need is a
computer and access to a computer. In this an individual willingly breaks
copyright law and retrieves by whatever means copyrighted software. In effect
this individual steals the software for their use. Again in this case the
offenders are usually minors. Keep in mind that is it not only minors that are
committing acts of software piracy, many adults and especially companies and
corporations still pirate software but they do so at a very little profile.
There are many ways that an individual can commit software piracy. Six
different methods are of the most evident ways to pirate software. The first
and most common method of software piracy is called \'End User Copying\' or
\'softlifting.\' This type of piracy is the out right copying of a program and
giving it to a friend or a colleague. An example of this is an individual just
bought a brand new computer game from the store. They liked it so much that
they made a copy and gave it to a friend. The second form of piracy is what is
referred to as hard disk loading. This is where a computer dealer or company
copy and load unauthorized copies of software onto the hard disks or the main
storage facility on the computer they will sell. This is a more commercial
aspect of software piracy and many of these companies use this as an incentive
to sell their machines by making more software for the machine available to the
customer. The third method is becoming more popular as many more people are
getting connected to the internet. This is the downloading or sending
copyrighted/illegal software via a modem to a public or private bulletin board
system or the internet. This type of piracy is usually at no charge to the end
user and is usually open to many people. The fourth type of software piracy is
known as counterfeiting. This is the illegal duplication and sale of
copyrighted/illegal software. This can be a very complex and sophisticated way
of piracy. This can include a relatively significant effort to duplicate the
original packaging, logos and other anti-counterfeiting techniques such as
holograms. This type of piracy can also be very unsophisticated by the copying
of