The DICT Development Group
1 definition found
for software theft
From The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing (30 December 2018) :
Unauthorised duplication and/or use of computer
software. This usually means unauthorised copying, either
by individuals for use by themselves or their friends or by
companies who then sell the illegal copies to users. Many
kinds of software protection have been invented to try to
reduce software theft but, with sufficient effort, it is
always possible to bypass or "crack" the protection, and
software protection is often annoying for legitimate users.
Software theft in 1994 was estimated to have cost $15 billion
in worldwide lost revenues to software publishers. It is an
offence in the UK under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act
1988, which states that "The owner of the copyright has the
exclusive right to copy the work."
It is estimated that European software houses alone lose $6
billion per year through the unlawful copying and distribution
of software, with much of this loss being through business
users rather than "basement hackers". One Italian pirating
operation employed over 100 staff and had a turnover of $10M.
It is illegal to: 1. Copy or distribute software or its
documentation without the permission or licence of the
copyright owner. 2. Run purchased software on two or more
computers simultaneously unless the licence specifically
allows it. 3. Knowingly or unknowingly allow, encourage or
pressure employees to make or use illegal copies sources
within the organisation. 4. Infringe laws against
unauthorised software copying because someone compels or
requests it. 5. Loan software in order that a copy be made of
When software is upgraded it is generally the case that the
licence accompanying the new version revokes the old version.
This means that it is illegal to run both the old and new
versions as only the new version is licensed.
Both individuals and companies may be convicted of piracy
offences. Officers of a company are also liable to conviction
if the offences were carried out by the company with their
consent. On conviction, the guilty party can face
imprisonment for up to two years (five in USA), an unlimited
fine or both as well as being sued for copyright infringement
(with no limit) by the copyright owner.
Because copying software is easy, some think that it is less
wrong than, say, stealing it from a shop. In fact, both
deprive software producers of income.
Software theft should be reported to the Federation Against
Software Theft (FAST).
See also Business Software Alliance, software audit,
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