Copyright and Piracy

Overview To counter software piracy, manufacturers use software copyrights and licenses. These documents clearly state ownership and terms of use of the software. What exactly constitutes an act of software piracy? Read the Webopedia definition to find out. Some organizations like GNU (short for GNU’s Not Unix), or the Free Software Foundation strongly believe that software should be freely distributed. There are two sides to the software copyright argument, but there seem to be only partial solutions offered in the debate about software piracy. 

Software Piracy Considering the phenomenal growth of the PC over the course of the last 20 years (as of 2001, 50% of American households now have a PC), it is not surprising that the software industry is one of the largest in the country. Software pirates short-change the software industry billions of dollars every year. Software copyright and licensing provides penalties as deterrents to software piracy. On Microsoft’s anti-piracy page you can read about software piracy and report any software piracy you have witnessed. You can also report suspected violations of copyright law to the Business Software Alliance by dialing (888) NOPIRACY or to the SIIA anti-piracy hotline at (800) 388-7478. To read more about the different types of software piracy, its effects, and the penalties, visit either http://www.filemaker.com/, or http://www.bbb.org/us/. Some organizations like the SIIA (Software and Information Industry Association) and the BSA (Business Software Association) take an active role in combating software piracy. The SIIA represents over 1,000 high-tech companies. Through their anti-piracy division, SPA (Software Publishers Association), the SIIA has prosecuted numerous software pirates. At the SIIA Web site you can read about current anti-piracy court cases, piracy FAQs,  and copyright information. The BSA has an anti-piracy Web page that is similar to that of the SIIA. Here you can learn how to protect yourself and your organization from software piracy.

GNU (GNU’s Not Unix) Launched in 1984, the GNU Project provides free, Unix-like operating systems, software, and manuals. GNU believes that software should be available for anyone to download, copy, or distribute free of charge. Read about this revolutionary way of looking at software economics at the GNU Project’s home page www.gnu.org. The unofficial GNU documentation site www.cs.pdx.edu/~trent/gnu  has a rich selection of GNU information. Read the GNU Manifesto for further details about GNU’s existence. Another important GNU document is the GNU Public License (GPL), which can be found at http://www.opensource.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.php. Associated with the GNU Project, the FSF (Free Software Foundation) authored and posts this document. 

Additional Information Entertainment software is perhaps the most frequently pirated type of software. Read the three-part “Software Piracy Report” at the GameSpy Web site. Warning: This series contains “seedy details” about the world of software piracy.