Copyright infringement of software
The copyright infringement of software (often referred to as software piracy) refers to several practices which involve the unauthorized copying of computer software. Copyright infringement of this kind varies globally. Most countries have copyright laws which apply to software, but the degree of enforcement and compliance varies. In those countries, subject to many exceptions, it is a copyright violation to download, upload or otherwise distribute copyrighted material without authorization.
Some of the motives for engaging in the illegal activity of copyright infringement are the following:
- Pricing – unwillingness or inability to pay the price requested by the legitimate sellers
- Unavailability – no legitimate sellers providing the product in the country of the end-user: not yet launched there, already withdrawn from sales, never to be sold there, geographical restrictions on online distribution and international shipping
- Usefulness – the legitimate product comes with various means (DRM, region lock, DVD region code, Blu-ray region code) of restricting legitimate use (backups, usage on devices of different vendors, offline usage) or comes with annoying non-skippable advertisements and anti-piracy disclaimers, which are removed in the pirated product making it more desirable for the end-user
- Shopping experience – no legitimate sellers providing the product with the required quality through online distribution and through a shopping system with the required level of user-friendliness
- Anonymity - Downloading cracked software does not require identification whereas downloads directly from the website of the copyright owner often require a valid email address and/ or other credentials
Existing and proposed laws 
Most countries extend copyright protections to software. Even the oldest legacy computer systems used today will not have their copyright expire until 2030. In the United States, copyright term has been extended many times over from the original term of 14 years with a single renewal allowance of 14 years, to the current term of the life of the author plus 70 years. If the work was produced under corporate authorship it may last 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication, whichever is less.
Criminal copyright infringement 
Punishment of copyright infringement varies case-by-case across countries. Convictions may include jail time and/or severe fines for each instance of copyright infringement. In the United States, willful copyright infringement carries a maximum penalty of $150,000 per instance.
United States v. LaMacchia 871 F.Supp. 535 (1994) was a case decided by the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts which ruled that, under the copyright and cybercrime laws effective at the time, committing copyright infringement for non-commercial motives could not be prosecuted under criminal copyright law. The ruling gave rise to what became known as the LaMacchia Loophole, wherein criminal charges of fraud or copyright infringement would be dismissed under current legal standards, so long as there was no profit motive involved.
The United States No Electronic Theft Act (NET Act), a federal law passed in 1997 in response to LaMacchia, provides for criminal prosecution of individuals who engage in copyright infringement under certain circumstances, even when there is no monetary profit or commercial benefit from the infringement. Maximum penalties can be five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines. The NET Act also raised statutory damages by 50%. The court's ruling explicitly drew attention to the shortcomings of current law that allowed people to facilitate mass copyright infringement while being immune to prosecution under the Copyright Act.
Proposed laws such as the Stop Online Piracy Act broaden the definition of "willful infringement", and introduce felony charges for unauthorized media streaming. These bills are aimed towards defeating websites that carry or contain links to infringing content, but have raised concerns about domestic abuse and internet censorship.
The DMCA and anti-circumvention laws 
Title I of the US DMCA, the WIPO Copyright and Performances and Phonograms Treaties Implementation Act has provisions that prevent persons from "circumvent[ing] a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work". Thus if a software manufacturer has some kind of software, dongle or password access device installed in the software any attempt to bypass such a copy protection scheme may be actionable — though the US Copyright Office is currently reviewing anticircumvention rulemaking under DMCA — anticircumvention exemptions that have been in place under the DMCA include those in software designed to filter websites that are generally seen to be inefficient (child safety and public library website filtering software) and the circumvention of copy protection mechanisms that have malfunctioned, have caused the software to become inoperable or which are no longer supported by their manufacturers.
Licensing Strategies 
Certain free software licenses, most notably GNU General Public License (GPL) substantially rely on existing copyright law. It is not possible to enforce GPL other than within the framework of existing copyright law.
Limitations and preventative measures 
Evaluation of alleged software copyright infringement in a court of law may be non-trivial; if an original work is alleged to have been modified, then tests such as the Abstraction-Filtration-Comparison test (AFC Test) are used to detect infringement. The time and costs required to apply this test naturally vary based on the size and complexity of the copyrighted material. Furthermore, there is no standard or universally accepted test; some courts have rejected the AFC Test it in favor of narrower testing criteria.
Different types of preventative measures are enacted to lessen or halt digital software piracy. Strategies include education, legislation, deterrence, and global agreements. It is vital to have foreign and domestic publisher alliances, so they may work together to combat the wrongdoing to their companies.
A major strategy in the game to stop piracy is to educate about the laws and sanctions involved if one was to engage in copyright infringement. To make the outcomes known about what could occur if you do engage in this type of behavior, will potentially deter people from doing so. By knowing of the sanctions that violators may be sentenced to if they do engage in this behavior, there is the potential to change the attitudes and beliefs of the person thinking of engaging in this activity. While increasing consequences has some power to deter infringing behavior, the behavior remains widespread, especially in developing countries. Certain publishers have tried to lock down their software or mobile platforms using digital rights management technology, which has been a controversial practice. A patent application (A Method and System for Preventing Software Piracy) was filed in January 2013 by Purdue University (J. Rice - inventor) for a method that is simple and effective. The idea is to tie the application AppX to the operating system SysT so that AppX does not operate properly if executed in a different operating system. Ties are made betwenn AppX and SysT using silent guards and bytes (called codemarks) from user specific SysT information. These guards can "sense" incorrect codemarks and corrupt AppX's execution. Silent guards are, by nature, hard to detect and it is easy to make the protective actions also depend on other variables. A copy of the patent is available from Purdue University.
Impact of copyright infringement 
Economic harm 
The BSA and IDC claim that losses from software piracy in 2009 have exceeded $51 billion, and that "Lowering software piracy by just 10 percentage points during the next four years would create nearly 500,000 new jobs and pump $140 billion into ailing economies." According to a BSA/IDC studies, the highest piracy rate comes from Armenia, with piracy rate of 93%. China and India are at No. 17 and No. 41 respectively, with 82% and 69% of recorded Software Piracy rates. The lowest piracy rate, according to survey, is observed in USA, at 20%. However, the methodology of these studies has been heavily criticized. According to Techdirt blogger Mike Masnick, estimated losses are exaggerated.
High claims for damages and allegations of economic harm are common in copyright disputes. Some, as those raised by the MPAA and RIAA with regards to the economic effects of music downloads, have been debunked as based on questionable assumptions which resulted in statistically unsound numbers. In one extreme example, the RIAA claimed damages against Limewire totaling $75 trillion - more than the global GDP - and "respectfully" disagreed with the judges ruling that such claims were "absurd".
Developing countries 
Most commercially exploited proprietary software is developed in the United States and Europe. Critics in developing countries see this as an indirect technology transfer tax[vague] on their country, preventing technological advancement. Some countries distinguish corporate piracy from private use as the later it is tolerated as a welfare service. This is the leading reason developing countries refuse to accept or respect copyright laws. This idea is often applied to patent laws as well. Traian Băsescu, the president of Romania, stated that "piracy helped the young generation discover computers. It set off the development of the IT industry in Romania."
The debate about software piracy acceptance in developing countries still continues. In 2011, the Business Software Alliance announced that 83 percent of software deployed on PCs in Africa has been pirated (excluding South Africa).
Pro-open culture organizations 
- Free Software Foundation (FSF)
- Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
- Creative Commons (CC)
- Demand Progress
Anti-copyright infringement organizations 
- Business Software Alliance (BSA)
- Canadian Alliance Against Software Theft (CAAST)
- Entertainment Software Association (ESA)
- Federation Against Software Theft (FAST)
- International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA)
See also 
- Australian copyright law
- Computer Associates Int. Inc. v. Altai Inc.
- File sharing
- Jacobsen v. Katzer
- Open Letter to Hobbyists
- Product activation
- Software copyright
- Windows Genuine Advantage
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- Article illustrating the effect of piracy on video games
- Desktop tool to discover and remove copyright-infringing downloads automatically, using DMCA notices