Report Software Piracy

Written by Kevin Tavolaro
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Some software companies, as well as third-party organizations like the anti-piracy division of the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA), are starting to actively seek the assistance of consumers in fighting software piracy. Many vendors have set up ways for consumers to report suspected copyright infringements of their product, and the SIIA has built an extensive system for the identification and notification of software piracy. These programs are intended to foster digital rights awareness, and primarily aim to reduce software theft at the corporate level.

Software manufactures, along with supporters such as the SIIA, contend that it is the responsibility of private individuals to report software license violations, copyright infringements, soft-lifting, and counterfeiting of copyrighted digital products. They assert that these illegal practices are just as harmful to the consumer as they are to the copyright holder, as software theft diminishes profits, which ultimately affects the consumer. By eating into a vendor's profits, software piracy reduces the available funds for research and development, which can prevent programs from fully meeting consumer needs. In addition, by flooding the market with unlicensed copies of a program, copyright violators satiate the demand for a program without reducing the official supply. As a result, manufacturers are unable to gradually lower the prices of popular software, leaving the consumer to cover the costs of software theft.

How To Report Software Piracy

The SIIA also offers rewards of up to 50,000 dollars to whistle blowers who offer information about verifiable corporate violations of software copyrights, especially cases of end-user software piracy. End-user piracy is the practice of allowing unrestricted access to a program on a company server, exceeding the amount of licensed access purchased by the organization. Software manufacturers often stress that such practices might be going on without the official consent, or even knowledge of all of an organization's officials, and argue that individuals who report violations can protect themselves against any repercussions that may occur if the theft is eventually discovered.

Network administrators are also urged to look for cases copyright infringements that may be perpetrated on their servers. This covers situations when individual employees are using company servers and terminals to either copy, distribute, or download unlicensed copies of programs. If an individual is caught engaging in such practices, the entire company can be liable for any damages. Copyright watchdogs encourage officials to be aware of the activities taking place on their servers, in order to detect and eliminate piracy before it brings consequences on the entire organization.

The SIIA has a website featuring an extended interface for reporting a variety of software copyright violations. These range from corporate license violations, to reseller bootlegging, to the free distribution of commercial programs via illegal "warez" software download sites. The SIIA site provides additional incentives by detailing both the large cash rewards for verifiable piracy-related information, as well as the consequences of many software piracy cases. This is intended to encourage violation reports by promising money, while illustrating what might happen if the situation is not reported.

Many software vendors provide the means to report piracy directly to their website. There are even third-party applications now being included with some browser tools that aim to facilitate piracy reports by allowing users to simply click a button if they're visiting a page that appears to be violating copyright laws by selling counterfeit software, or offering free downloads of commercial programs. The single-button method of reporting violations is intended to solicit information from web surfers who might be inclined to report theft, but prefer not to take the time to fill out a lengthy online form.

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