- What is software piracy?
- Why should you care about software piracy?
- What should consumers and businesses look for when purchasing software over the Internet?
- What is Hagen Software doing about software piracy?
- How can I report software piracy?
Software piracy is the theft of software through illegal copying of genuine commercial programs or through the illegal appropriation of all or any part of the software code of a genuine commercial program for usage in another program. Examples include making additional unauthorized copies of a licensed copy of a software program; reselling additional, unauthorized copies of the software program; or taking libraries, algorithms, or individual lines of code from a genuine commercial program and illegally incorporating them into another program that is then either used internally or redistributed, whether freely or for profit.
When you acquire a software program, you are actually purchasing only a license to use that program. You do not "own" the program outright. As a result, you are legally bound to the license agreement that accompanied that software program. This license agreement usually specifies what you can or cannot do with the software program. For example, the standard End User License Agreement (EULA) for Hagen Software products allows you to install only one copy of the program, requires you to use your best efforts to protect that copy or any of its source code from being appropriated by third parties, and requires that the "Powered by e-Classifieds" copyright notices remain intact and visible on pages generated by the program. All of this is done to protect both you and Hagen Software from the harmful effects of software piracy, some of which are described below.
Software piracy has a devastating impact both on national economies and the global economy in general, as well as on both the producers and consumers of legitimate software products. Studies have shown that software piracy results in the loss of billions of dollars annually to legitimate businesses and consumers worldwide, as well as the loss of over one million jobs worldwide. For legitimate software producers, software piracy results in reduced revenues, which in turn reduces the amount of money available for financing and developing new products, continuing to develop and improve the existing products, and providing customer support and customization services for the existing products. For consumers, these effects all result in fewer innovations, as well as reduced quality of and less support for the software products licensed by consumers. It also results in higher prices for the software products licensed by consumers, since software developers have no choice but to pass on the losses incurred from privacy to consumers in the form of higher prices. Consumers who are duped into purchasing fraudulent or pirated software programs are further harmed by the often poor quality of the pirated copies, which may contain bugs, viruses, or other security holes that have been introduced during the illegal copying process. Furthermore, the fly-by-night companies that attempt to sell these pirated software programs usually provide no real contact information (such as a valid mailing address and telephone number), and they usually are shut down or otherwise go out of business quickly, leaving the consumer with a defective product and no support. Moreover, since the product was pirated or uses pirated software code, the consumer does not have a legal license to use the product in the first place.
Software piracy is not a victimless crime. In the end, as with insurance fraud, arson, or other types of criminal activity, it is ultimately you, the consumer, who pays for software piracy.
The following rules of thumb will help you when purchasing software over the Internet:
- First and foremost, make sure that the vendor provides a valid mailing address and telephone number on their web site. You should never purchase software from a company that does not provide this information on their web site, as this is a huge tipoff that the company is engaging in software piracy. Legitimate vendors have no need to "hide" their contact information. Companies engaging in software piracy will often provide only an e-mail address and/or online contact forms through their web site, but will not provide legitimate contact information because they do not want the authorities to be able to find them if their illegal operations are ever revealed.
- If the product being offered looks too similar to any Hagen Software product or another legitimate software product, don't buy it! We have had to shut down web sites that were illegally appropriating parts of the e-Classifieds® source code, as well as the source code of other legitimate vendors, into their "products", which they were then attempting to sell at cutrate prices. Needless to say, such actions are illegal and can subject the perpetrator to imprisonment.
- If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. You've heard this old saying before, but it's more true than ever when it comes to software purchased over the Internet. Since software pirates don't have to spend the large amounts of time, effort, and money on research and development that it takes to create a legitimate software product, they can easily sell their pirated versions or imitation products at prices that are far below the normal market prices for genuine products. This is really no different than the "hot" stereo or other stolen goods that a criminal might try to sell you in a back alley somewhere for one tenth of the actual cost of the products. Buying such products, or buying pirated software or software that contains pirated code, will only be a waste of your money no matter how cheap the offering price may be, since you will have no lawful ownership rights in the stolen product if you purchase it. Moreover, like the stolen stereo, the stolen software product may not even work, and you will have no recourse if it doesn't or if the rightful owner reclaims it.
- Watch out if the vendor is new or has not been around for a long time. This is not to say that you should never purchase software products from new companies, as all companies were new at some point, but this is certainly a warning sign that should prompt you to investigate further by looking for some of the other warning signs mentioned here. Most software pirates are new or have not been around for more than a few months, because they are usually caught and shut down after a while, or they purposely shut down their operations so that they can move them to another web site and re-open them under a new business name and/or web site domain before they are caught. If the company has not been around for a few years, you should be extremely hesitant about purchasing software from them.
Hagen Software actively monitors the Internet for unlawful copies of any of its software, unlawful resellers of its software, sites that illegally attempt to sell "re-branded" programs that use any part of the source code from legitimate Hagen Software products, and sites that have illegally removed the "Powered by e-Classifieds" copyright notice from their e-Classifieds® software installation. Hagen Software vigorously prosecutes all violators via both civil legal actions for monetary damages and by working in conjunction with the relevant criminal authorities for that locality, state or province, and country, anywhere in the world. We have successfully shut down individuals and web sites that have illegally pirated part or all of the source code from e-Classifieds® and other products of Hagen Software. As is explained on our legal page, in addition to working with outside legal counsel, Hagen Software maintains several attorneys on staff who vigorously defend our rights. It is an unfortunate reality that these efforts not only divert staff resources away from providing improved customer service and new products, but also require us to pass on these expenses in the form of higher software prices. Nonetheless, you can help us keep prices down and free up more of our staff resources for improved customer service and new products by reporting all potential violators to us via this form. You can also help by ensuring that your licensed installations of Hagen Software products maintain the required "Powered by e-Classifieds" notice and that third parties do not gain access to the source code. We greatly appreciate your assistance in this area.
If you suspect that an entity may be committing software piracy with respect to any Hagen Software products, whether via directly reselling these products or by creating derivative works that use parts of the e-Classifieds® source code, or if you see a site using e-Classifieds® that has unlawfully removed the "Powered by e-Classifieds" copyright notice, please use this form to contact us. You can also contact our legal department via the contact information provided on our Legal Information page.