‘Software infringement’ might be a strange word for most of you, but this is a violation where many users do in a daily basis. As users who benefit from different types of software, we should be aware of, what is software infringement? What are the consequences of it. Let’s look at what is software infringement is?
As a general matter, copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner.
-U.S. Copyright Office-
As per the definition software infringement/copyright infringement is the use of software for many different purposes without the copyright owner’s (A piece of software is copyrighted to its developer) permission. Let’s put it in simple way, Software infringement can be represented in various terms, such as using pirated software’s, cracked software, fake software, etc.
It’s true that sometimes software’s can be expensive; Having said that, it is not an excuse for using pirated software. Because there are pretty decent free and open source (FOS) alternatives available for many commercial software. It may not be as perfect as a proprietary software though, Foss software makes a good effort to keep in line with the proprietary software.
There are many reasons to justify, why it’s not wise to use pirated software. Few such instances are,
Using cracked version of software may not always be free. There could be hidden cost involved in it, which is true in most cases. Assume that these software is used in a commercial environment. There are high chances where cracked software may crash your systems, which may lead to monetary and other losses to the business. With malware embedded in cracked software, it is highly possibly can happen.
Why do hackers/crackers crack software and distribute it for free? Thinking in a rational way, crackers would not distribute cracked software without any benefit. Certainly there will be benefits for them. By the looks of it, the software will work perfectly as the licensed product; But behind the scene there can be malware embedded to it. Ultimately the cost of using pirated software could end up in a disaster. Your privacy gets violated, personal/banking information could be stolen, damage to the systems and many more.
Think of a situation where your production department uses a pirated system for a critical process. All of a sudden the system crashes. And you don’t have the expertise to fix the issue. What will you do? Now you are lost. You will have no one to turn to. Not only that these type of software will not get any upgrades or patches. Patches are really important when it comes to fixing security and other issues in the system. These issue can be applicable for both personal and commercial use.
It is illegal
Everyone knows unauthorized usage of copyrighted software is illegal. But not many of them realizes it, using these kind of software will lead them to trouble. People think they will not be caught. This is not the case anymore. We have come across many incidents where people are finding police or law enforcement authorities knocking their door with search warrants to search if you use pirated programs. Keep it in mind that, almost everything you have done in an environment is re-traceable.
Having said all these consequences of using cracked software, there are many ways to stay safe meanwhile accomplishing you work. If your requirement is for a short period of time, you can always go for a trial version of proprietary software. If you need to use it for long term purpose, but if you can’t afford to buy, it is wise to go for an alternative software which is free or low in cost, rather than going for an alternative way to use the expensive commercial software. You can get a pretty decent community support for Free and open source (FOSS) software as well. Think wisely and make decision.
Abdul is an Associate Information Security Analyst at Sri Lanka CERT|CC