Electronic Design

Ahoy! Software Pirates Are Sailing The Net

Online auctions may seem like a great place to find bargain software, but be careful. A recent survey found that most of these software auctions are illegitimate.

SIIA, a trade association that protects the intellectual property of the software and information industries, conducted a five-day study of three major Internet auction sites. It discovered that 60% of the auctions involved illegal software.

"Internet auction sites have provided an unparalleled forum for pirates to distribute illegitimate software," says Peter Beruk, SIIA's v.p. of anti-piracy programs. Responding to this threat, SIIA developed approaches that these sites can take to do away with unauthorized auctions.

Primarily, sites could simply ban the distribution of copyrighted software. That way, bootlegs can't pass themselves off as the real thing. Since this may not be practical, these sites could review all auctions that transfer software prior to their posting. If this isn't possible either, then the sites could review the auctions within 24 hours after their posting.

According to Beruk, illegal software has a number of devastating ramifications. Copyright holders lose thousands of dollars. Customers can receive software that doesn't work, or worse yet, contains a virus. Also, if there are any problems, the software wouldn't be eligible for any technical or upgrade support. Most importantly, perhaps, buyers and sellers of illegal software may be subject to civil or criminal liabilities.

For more information, contact Peter Beruk at (202) 452-1600, ext. 314, or go to www.siia.net.

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