If you’ve shopped for professional software like Adobe Acrobat Pro or AutoCAD in the recent past, you’ve experienced the textbook definition of “sticker shock.” Obtaining such programs legally is so expensive these days that the market for pirated software continues to grow rapidly despite stringent efforts to the contrary by many software publishers and ISPs. So how can you know for sure that the program you’ve purchased on the secondary market is legal? Follow these tips to sniff out pirated products and find great deals on perfectly legal versions.
What Constitutes Piracy?
Although a sixth-grader could probably nail the basic dictionary definition of “piracy,” things aren’t always so cut-and-dry in the real world. The most harmful form of piracy involves the sale of illegally-copied software programs in direct contravention of their license agreements, which limit salable rights to authorized retailers. Skilled pirates are good at concealing the origin of their software, inventing bogus licenses and bypassing the manufacturer’s activation process with one of their own. Unfortunately, many legal jurisdictions hold both pirate and client liable for the distribution of illegal software.
Characteristics of Pirated Software
Even well-disguised pirated software will exhibit several tell-tale signs that it is not on the up-and-up.
- Astoundingly low prices. If the aftermarket software you’re thinking about purchasing is discounted by more than 20 percent from the manufacturer’s list price, it may be illegal. Do a quick search of reputable software retailers to determine the average price of each product.
- Sketchy activation procedures. If your software’s activation and registration page bypasses the manufacturer’s homepage or requires a code available only through the entity that sold you the product, be suspicious. If the product can’t be registered at all, it’s most likely pirated.
- “Academic” or “educational” versions. You should be all for teachers getting the tools they need to educate their students properly, but the discounted versions of their products are common targets for pirates. Be suspicious of anything that comes with an “Academic Version” label.
Risks of Pirated Software
You run a number of risks when you purchase pirated products, including:
- Lack of support. You won’t get the user manuals, in-store assistance or technical support that normally comes with expensive software packages.
- Compromised security. Many retailers of pirated software use their supposedly-legitimate business front to take advantage of unsuspecting clients, stealing their credit card numbers and implanting spyware on their computers. Don’t become a statistic.
- Legal jeopardy. If purchasing pirated software is illegal in your area, you may be fined or worse by a local Internet-crime task force.
It’s possible to find safe, cheap software without breaking the law. If you do happen to be an educator, for example, you can access academic software at a significant discount. Major retailers and software companies as well as third-party retailers also occasionally auction off hard or electronic copies of surplus inventory at incredible discounts. Finally, if you don’t care about having the latest version of a given program, “previous version” software is often available for next to nothing.
Unwittingly purchasing pirated software doesn’t make you a bad person, but there’s no reason to put yourself, your computer and your reputation in jeopardy by doing so. Now that you know how to spot pirated software and find cheaper, safer versions of the same programs, spread the word!
Zach Culverwell is a full-time writer for tech blogs and journals. He writes for www.downloadhaus.com where you can find more info on 7zip download.