May 31, 2018

ActioNet Employee writes about Software Piracy

By Brennan H.

Brennan H works in support of our DoD Customers as a Software Deployment Specialist. He recently earned a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science with a minor in Cyber Security. Next step is to continue his education with a Master’s degree in Computer Science. Brennan’s responsibilities include managing SCCM and monitoring software to make sure that all computers are up to date with the correct software required for daily ops and educational functions. It’s this responsibility for software deployment that drives Brennan to be very concerned with software piracy.

Many people have copied music from a friend or family member before. There have also been times that duplicates were made for the convenience of having the same access in two places. For example, one music CD for the car and one for the house. Or software for the desktop and a copy for the laptop.

So is it acceptable to copy music or other software – or is it illegal?

Let’s start by examining the ‘Copyright Agreement.’  There are some software copyrights that do allow for the user to copy the software to be used on one other device. For example with Microsoft Office, “the license permits you to install a second copy on one laptop or home computer to use for work-related purposes” (Cornell, Copyright Infringement of Software). According to the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), the “No Electronic Theft” law or NET Act, digitally recorded music is roughly the same.

According to Apple, software piracy accounts for $11 billion in losses every year (Apple, Piracy Prevention). This is the money that should be going to the creators, those who put the time and effort into making the software. Money that could have been used on continuous development, the supply chain and those down the line that are responsible for making the physical software, i.e. CD manufacturers, packaging, and shipping. Income loss due to pirating has a trickle-down effect to the local economy.  Employing less software developers leads to needing less work space, less need for office space, less commercial building and maintenance/upkeep.

Penalties may appear steep, “Criminal penalties for first-time offenders can be as high as five years in prison and $250,000 in fines” and “Civil penalties can run into many thousands of dollars in damages and legal fees. The minimum penalty is $750 per song” (RIAA, The Law). Again penalties may sound steep but when you think of all the people that are negatively impacted by the theft or copying of software and their loss of wages, these fines are rather modest.

According to BSA (The Software Alliance), “Properly licensed software contributes three times more to national economies than pirated software” (BSA, Economic advantage of properly licensed software). In fact, that amounts to about $73 billion globally. By licensing a certain amount of downloads or installs, software developers can protect their assets. The user must access the Internet at least once to register the software. Microsoft currently employs this form of protection with all of its software (Microsoft, Pirated software hurts everyone). Movie and video game vendors have special codes that disallow the copying of its contents known as Digital Rights Management (DRM) software.

Software Specialists ensure that all the software licenses are kept up to date and current. ActioNet also holds its workers to a similar standard per their guidance in the Employee Handbook.  Sacrificing a little money to pay for properly licensed software in order to help all those that are involved in the creation and development process and the subsequent maintenance process to follow is not all that bad. In the end, we all win!

Want to learn more?  Visit the sites referenced in this article:

Copyright Infringement of Software

The Law (2018)

Piracy Prevention

Consequences of Piracy

Pirated Software Hurts Everyone (2015)

Properly Licensed Software Contributes Three Times More to National Economies than Pirated Software (2013)

Competitive Advantage: The Economic Impact of Properly Licensed Software (2013)