Saturday, March 7, 2009

Software Piracy and its Consequences


As the software industry has become more diverse and sophisticated over the years, it has played a significant part in adding value to companies and individuals alike. The use of software applications has revolutionized our world in many ways as they have been used as critical tools to accomplish the most simple tasks to the most complex operations in daily life. The use of software has also helped individuals and companies manage their time more efficiently.

Thus, as software industry grows every individual who makes use of their applications, whether for business or for pleasure, benefits from it. While most people respect and abide contract agreements for the applications they use, there are those who just ignore its clauses of copyright protection and violate the laws therefore committing the act of piracy, despite the benefits available to them.
According to SIIA, an anti-Piracy organization, industry loses about $11 or $12 billion each year due to piracy. About $2 billion of that comes from North America. Piracy rates have reached 25% of sold applications in the US. That means that for every four copies of software, one is acquired illegally. SIIA fights fiercely against acts of piracy based on agreements it has with US and foreign country governments. According to SIIA, Asia hosts the greatest number of individuals who engage in piracy acts.

Despite efforts on the part of interested parties and tough government legislation, the problem of piracy is far from being eliminated. There is an alarming number of people out there who do not hesitate engaging themselves in such acts regardless of the consequences it may incur. More still needs to be done by law makers, software industry and developers in order to discourage the cycle of breaking copyright protection laws.

People have different motivations for taking the risk and engaging in piracy acts. Those who copy software from a friend for his own use are as guilty as those who copy it with the intention of illegally reselling and profiting from it. Software piracy is just one aspect of copyright infringement. There is a wide range of products which are indiscriminately reproduced and sold in the market as if they were the original brand.

Using, reproducing or profiting from an intellectual property without an abiding agreement is considered illegal. According to SIIA.net, “Anyone who uses, copies, distributes, or displays (in whole or in part) someone else’s copyrighted content without authorization may be violating the owner’s copyright rights. Such violations can result in a lawsuit and money damages, and in some cases, criminal prosecution with jail time”.

Software piracy is considered theft and those caught in the act of piracy should be held accountable. In order to prevent that kind of crime, software companies should be more proactive and take some responsibility as well. By releasing a more affordable version of their products people may be discouraged from making copies and selling them for profit. The way things are the software piracy problem is far from being controlled. It not only harms the developing companies which may fall short from its projected revenues but also consumers who rely on such products to execute their projects. As those companies become limited in their resources, they may be forced to cut their research efforts and compromise the quality of their products.

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