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Written by carl Illegal Software Can Cause Big Problems Small businesses that grow swiftly or that frequently acquire new hardware sometimes find it hard to stay on top of their software licenses.
When you pay for a program, you become a licensed user — not an owner. The ramifications are profound. Businesses of all sizes face legal risks because of software piracy.
Piracy explained So what exactly is software piracy? As generally defined by the software industry, it is the illegal copying or distribution of a copyrighted software program.
The use or possession of an illegal copy is also considered software piracy.
Software piracy comes in many shapes, with the following being the most common: This occurs when an employee reproduces copies software without appropriate licensing for each copy. Intellectual property theft via the Internet has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, to the extent that virtually every software product can be found on a pirate Web site.
These include Web sites that make software available as a free download, Internet auction sites that offer counterfeit software, and peer-to-peer networks that enable the unauthorized transfer of copyrighted programs.
According to the Software and Information Industry Association, over 90 percent of software sold through online auctions is pirated. This occurs when too many employees on a company network are using a central copy of a program at the same time.
If you have installed programs on your local area network for several employees to use, you must be sure that your licenses entitle you to do so. This is the illegal duplication and sale of copyrighted material with the intention of directly imitating the copyrighted product. Counterfeit registration cards with unauthorized serial numbers are often included in these packages.
Stiff penalties The software license is not the only way in which a program is protected. Copyright and patent law can protect software from unauthorized copying, distribution, and sale.
In the case of the Internet, the law prohibits users from uploading, downloading, or transmitting unauthorized copies of software online. An individual who breaks these laws — and a company that ignores an employee who breaks these laws — is liable to civil and criminal action.
Moreover, the government can criminally prosecute for copyright infringement. Here are some things you should do to ensure you and your business steers clear of trouble: Conduct an inventory of all your computers and what applications they are running.
Then, gather your licenses and be sure each machine is covered. Create steps to follow so that you know exactly how to comply with your license agreement when, for example, you add a new computer, application, or employee.
You should review and update this information regularly — perhaps as often as twice a year. If you want to be sure your license agreements are in proper working order, check the applications you are using for a certificate of authenticity.
Certificates of authenticity are usually complex documents using multicolored graphics, text, and holograms.
This cannot be overemphasized: Be sure everyone is familiar with your software license agreements and knows how to observe them. If necessary, create a company-wide software licensing policy, including guidelines for ordering new software.
Make sure that the policy is included in any information that is given to new employees and distributed to all current employees. Most manufacturers have an anti-piracy line so you can report copyright infringement confidentially.
Make it an ongoing effort The steps outlined above are essential to any software management plan. It is essential that you monitor employee adherence and protect against the introduction of illegal software.
Software piracy is not a victimless crime. Piracy denies software developers rightful revenue — money that could be fruitfully channeled back into research and development of new products.Verizon Wireless now has million subscribers and generates $ billion in annual revenue.
Total wireless subscribers totaled million, or 84 percent of the U.S. population, as of June, according to the International Association for Wireless Telecommunications. Nearly half, or 46 percent, of children ages 8 to 12 use cell phones, according to the Nielsen Co.
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consequence, however, is that the resulting law, whether domestic or international, may be sharply influenced by the nature of the events that precipitate legal developments, together with all their attendant policy and political considerations.
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