While it may not seem like theft, according to U.S. Law, software is considered intellectual property. In order for its use to be legal, it must be purchased. The owner is then paid and the end user is issued a valid license. Under the law, a company can be held liable for its employee’s actions which includes the installation of non-licensed software on company computers regardless of knowledge. The company can then be sued for copyright infringement. It is important to make it clear to employees that this is not an acceptable practice.
There is no arguing that outfitting an entire company with legal software can be expensive. Programs can range anywhere from a few dollars for a simple ap all the way up into the tens of thousands for complicated or proprietary software. Even so, software piracy penalties far exceed what most companies would ever need to spend on programs to support their business.
What are the penalties for operating on illegal software?
Software theft is potentially punishable under both civil and criminal law.
If civil action is taken, the owner can seek to stop you from using the software immediately and may seek monetary damages. The copyright owner has the choice of retrieving actual damages, which include the amount it has lost because of your infringement as well as any profits attributable to the infringement, OR they may seek statutory damages, which tops out at $150,000 for each program copied.
If the government decides to prosecute in criminal court, you can be fined up to $250,000, sentenced to jail for up to five years, or possibly both.
Other disadvantages that come with pirated software:
• There are no warranties
• Your software does not come with any kind of technical support
• You are more open to being exposed to malware
• The security risk is greater
• Greater exposure to malware and security risks
• Only licensed copies are eligible for upgrades, this could easily leave you with outdated software very quickly
If you do need to run a business and do not have the capital currently to purchase software there is always open source software which is free to use.
Replace Microsoft Office with Open Office – www.openoffice.org
Replace Adobe Photoshop with Gimp Shop – www.gimpshop.com
Replace 3D programs with Blender – www.Blender.org
Replace Microsoft Outlook with Mozilla Thunderbird – www.mozillamessaging.com
There are tons of open source free software available if you search.
Stealing software may seem like the quick and easy fix, and it may not even feel like theft, but it could very well come back and bite you in the end.
Determining which programs are the best fit for your business is a part of what we do. Let us evaluate your current IT structure and make recommendations before you go out and spend money on software. Along with software recommendations, we will run a full risk report, asset report, site diagram, IT SWOT analysis, and a remediation plan. Just click and oil out this short evaluation form and we will be in touch shortly.