What is software piracy


Software piracy is the illegal copying, distribution, sharing, sale, or use of software, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Examples of software piracy include activities such as an end user installing a single-use license on multiple computers, a vacationer purchasing a pirated copy of software in the Far East, or mass distribution of illegally obtained software.

Since there are many types of activities that fall under the category of piracy, knowing how to answer the question “what is software piracy” is something that all software users should be able to do. .

Indeed, many people commit acts of software piracy on a regular basis without knowing exactly what software piracy is, or even that they are doing something they shouldn’t be doing, and this is costing IT companies dearly.

Software piracy history

When thinking about how you can prevent software piracy, it’s important to understand that software piracy is nothing new and is constantly evolving. If you had asked the question “what is software piracy?” In the early days of computing, you would have discovered that “hackers” were mostly computer enthusiasts sharing or trading basic applications on a one-to-one basis. After all, computers couldn’t do much more than run basic programs and the question of how to prevent software piracy didn’t even arise.

As home computing became more mainstream, technologies for copying and sharing, not to mention use, became more sophisticated. As a result, software piracy has accelerated to the point of costing developers and businesses billions of dollars a year and the definition of software piracy has expanded to include many elements, from counterfeit loading on hard drives.

Although laws were in place almost from the start of the home computer age, in the mid to late 1970s, these legal disincentives, along with other hacking protection techniques of software, have not been enough to stem the tide of software piracy.

For example, the Computer Software Copyright Act of 1980 was the first to protect developers, and their rights were strengthened when the United States Patent Office began issuing patents to developers in 1989.

How much do IT companies lose due to different types of software piracy?

Organized software piracy is expensive for IT companies, but that’s only part of the problem. Software and IT companies are also losing revenue and profit due to end users committing acts of software piracy without even realizing that what they are doing is illegal.

According to the latest figures published by the BSA Software Alliance in 2018, 37% of software installed on personal computers is unlicensed (although given the current pandemic and the increase in the number of teleworkers, this figure is probably even higher). Using unlicensed software puts businesses at increased risk of malware infections, which can cripple their network. Indeed, by installing unlicensed software or by buying a computer on which unlicensed software is installed, you have a one in three chance of encountering malware.

The BSA estimates that each malware attack can cost a business $2.4 million on average and can take up to 50 days to resolve. The organization estimates that malware losses cost businesses an estimated $359 billion a year, while software vendors lose $46 billion due to the use of unlicensed software.

Knowing about these dangers is a key reason for people to understand what software piracy is and the potential pitfalls they can encounter if they use pirated software.

What are the most common types of software piracy?

Although all types of software piracy are illegal, many people would be shocked to discover that something they probably haven’t even thought of constitutes software piracy. There are also those who understand exactly what software piracy is and engage in activities that are against the law.

In the first case, these are people who make honest (but nevertheless criminal) mistakes, such as installing a program on more computers than those for which they have obtained a license, because one did not specifically tell them not to.

The second group includes people who operate with the malicious intent of copying and distributing pirated software or who seek out pirated software because they know it costs less than the official version.

Between these two groups, there is a type of piracy that could be described as “casual”, which includes someone buying pirated software from an unlicensed buyer, in the Far East, for example. Even this isolated act would be considered

What are common examples of software piracy?

There are many types of software piracy, some more well known than others, including:


end-user piracy

internet piracy

loading on hard drives

client-server overuse


Counterfeiting, or the illegal copying and distribution or sale of copyrighted material, is the first answer most people would give to the question of what software piracy is. Although many people would not knowingly buy counterfeit products, one of the challenges that software developers face is that counterfeiters are adept at making products that closely resemble the original (authentic) products. These include license agreement manuals, registration cards, and security features that accompany the copy of the software.

Hacking by end user

Another common example of software piracy occurs when people make copies of software or use single-user licensed software on multiple computers. This type of software piracy is known as end-user . Piracy also occurs when people manage to take advantage of software upgrade offers, even though they do not have a legal copy of the software to upgrade, or when they use unreleased or restricted distribution without proper license.

Hacking on the Internet

A growing number of people are downloading software directly from publishers’ websites. They must therefore ensure that the site they are downloading from is official and not a pirate lookalike. This may sound obvious, but it’s easier said than done and creating nearly identical sites is just one of the common examples of software piracy that can trick end users into using pirated software inadvertently. . In order to minimize the risk of falling victim to this type of software piracy, users should also avoid other sites where they may download pirated software, such as Internet sites offering free software downloads to users in exchange for other software, obsolete or counterfeit software auction sites and peer-to-peer networks.

What is software piracy

Loading on hard drives

Another example of software piracy is known as loading onto hard drives. It is the name given to one of the types of software piracy that occurs when a company installs unauthorized copies of software on the hard drives of the computers it sells. That doesn’t mean she’s generous. Far from there. She tries to encourage consumers or end users to come back to her to buy software or update their existing software.

Client-server overuse

Like end-user piracy, client-server overuse is another type of software piracy that occurs when the number of users using a specific piece of software exceeds the number of licenses a company has for that software. This type of hacking can occur, for example, when a program is installed on a local network rather than on an individual computer. This means that instead of being limited to a single user, multiple people can use the software at the same time.

Thales PLC software protection techniques

While it may seem impossible to stay one step ahead of software pirates, CPL Thales offers a range of security and software license management solutions that offer an effective defense against several types of software piracy. Among the solutions offered by CPL Thales to fight against piracy, we can cite:

Thales Sentinel LDK

Sentinel LDK from Thales is an out-of-the-box software protection, licensing and entitlement management solution that reduces the risk of software piracy, increases software security and provides software license management solutions. It allows publishers to offer a wide range of licensing models, allowing flexible pricing and product offerings. All of this helps to create new revenue opportunities and increase customer satisfaction.

Sentinel HL Hardware Keys

Sentinel HL hardware keys provide easy access to out-of-the-box licensing templates that can be seamlessly updated in the field, all in a secure, compact, and robust token. They maintain full compatibility with existing Sentinel HASP HL, Hardlock, and Sentinel SuperPro implementations and provide access to future innovations through Sentinel LDK.

Using Thales PLC software piracy protection techniques and solutions enables technology providers and software vendors to know and control how their applications are used. By having safeguards in place to enforce license terms, companies can be assured that their products are not used or distributed without their permission, allowing them to stay one step ahead of software pirates. Contact a software hacking expert today!


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