File a Piracy Report
Software piracy is an international problem. In the United States, software piracy costs an estimated $8 billion in lost commercial sales. Piracy is stealing. We need your help to combat this crime. If you see something, say something. Report issues of piracy here. SIIA advocates for the industry and protects intellectual property from theft.
Frequently Asked Questions
SIIA and its predecessor organization, the Software Publishers Association (SPA), have the longest-running software IP Protection program in existence. Started in the mid-1980s, SIIA’s Corporate IP Protection program identifies, investigates, and resolves software piracy cases on behalf of our members. As Internet-based piracy has emerged, SIIA again broke new ground and now has an extensive program for tackling software pirates operating over the Internet, ensuring that SIIA members receive the maximum protection possible. SIIA primarily pursues two kinds of software piracy: corporate end-user piracy and Internet piracy. Each of these requires a different reporting process.
The Corporate End-User Piracy Report Form should be used if you want to report the use of unlicensed software within any company or other organization. SIIA offers rewards up to $1 million to individuals who report verifiable corporate end-user piracy cases to our IP Protection team. For more information about the Reward Program, click here.
You can also report any of these types of piracy by calling our IP Protection Hotline at (800) 388-7478.
Computer software is protected by copyright law, which is designed to protect and stimulate investment in the production of new works. Modern commercial software is created by teams of people — programmers, engineers, writers, graphic artists and others – all of whom deserve fair compensation for their efforts. Without the protection given by our copyright laws, they would be unable to produce the valuable programs that have become so important to our daily lives: educational software that teaches us much needed skills; business software that allows us to save time, effort and money; and entertainment and personal productivity software that enhances leisure time. The use of pirated software also drives up the costs for legitimate users – which gives legitimate users more reason to help SIIA fight piracy by reporting to us those companies that are not “playing by the rules.”
The Copyright Act allows a copyright owner to recover monetary damages measured either by: (1) actual damages plus any additional profits of the infringer attributable to the infringement, or (2) statutory damages, of up to $150,000 for each copyrighted work infringed.
The copyright owner also has the right to permanently enjoin an infringer from engaging in further infringing activities and may be awarded costs and attorneys’ fees. The law also permits destruction or other reasonable disposition of all infringing copies and devices by which infringing copies have been made or used in violation of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights. In cases of willful infringement, criminal penalties may also be assessed against the infringer.
The copyright law allows anyone who owns a copy of software has the right to load that copy onto a single computer and to make another copy “for archival purposes only” or, in limited circumstances, for “purposes only of maintenance or repair.” Most software is licensed, though, and it is illegal to use that software on more than one computer or to make or distribute copies of that software for any other purpose unless specific permission has been obtained from the software publisher. If you pirate software, you may face not only a civil suit for damages and other relief, but criminal liability as well, including fines and jail time.
Buying and using illegal software is risky for corporate and individual users. Aside from the legal consequences of using pirated software, your organization forfeits some practical benefits as well. Sometimes, the actors selling it can make it look like the real thing with a quick glance, but on closer look it becomes clear that the software has been reproduced by someone other than an authorized distributor. It may look just like the ‘real’ thing, but often is obviously not. If you are offered extremely cheap software from a web site that does not belong to the software publisher, at a ‘computer show and sale’, in another country or at flea market, look for some of the warning signals below.
- The price of the software is far below retail price. (If something seems too good to be true, it usually is).
- The software lacks proper documentation.
- If there is a disclaimer about the legality of their software, it isn’t legal.
- The software is labeled as OEM or backup software. Not only is it illegal, but you will not be given the same level of tech support.
- Pay attention to the location from which they ship the software. If it comes from Eastern Europe, China or other locations that have high piracy rates, it may be suspect.
- You are warned not to register the software.
- The software is being sold as Academic Version or “Not for Resale.”
- If they offer the software in a download format as opposed to a physical disk shipped to your door then there is a good chance that the software is pirated. While many companies are using the direct download method to reshape the methods of distribution, they very rarely allow third parties to distribute in this fashion.
- The software does not look authentic. For example, the software, product packaging or accompanying materials are of inferior quality or include handwritten labels, or the download is being sold from an auction link.
- The Serial #/DVD Key is sent to you in an email separately.
- One DVD or download contains multiple applications (especially if they are from different companies)
The risks of using this software are considerable. Those who do:
- Increase their risk of data breach caused by exposure to malware that can jeopardize the security of computers, networks and the information on them;
- Increase the chances that the software will not function correctly or will fail completely;
- Forfeit access to customer support, upgrades, technical documentation, training, and bug fixes;
- Have no warranty to protect themselves;
- May find that the software is actually an outdated version, a beta (test) version, or a nonfunctioning copy;
- Are subject to significant fines for copyright infringement; and
- Risk potential public and private embarrassment, and in the case of a organization, negative publicity that could cause irreparable harm to the business.
Cases of software piracy, or noncompliance with software licenses, can be reported on the Internet at http://www.siia.net/piracy/report.asp or by calling the IP Protection Hotline: (800) 388-7478.
No. SIIA does not pursue employees who install illegal software at the direction of their supervisor or company management. Nor would SIIA sue any individual who reports a case of software piracy to SIIA for copyright infringement.
A good rule of thumb is to install one software package for each computer, unless the terms of the license agreement allow for multiple installations of the program. Some software publishers’ licenses do allow for “remote” or “home” use of their software. Others limit use to an educational or academic setting only. Check the license carefully to see what you are allowed to do and what the scope of your rights is.
In general, no. OEM software is only distributed when sold with specified accompanying hardware. When these programs are copied and/or sold separately from the hardware, it is a violation of the license with the software publisher, and therefore illegal.
Only if the license permits it. If the license doesn’t, then what you’re doing is called “softlifting,” and a violation of the copyright laws. This prohibition includes sharing with friends and co-workers and installing software on home/laptop computers if not allowed by the license.
No. A “backup copy” can be used for “archival purposes only.” This copy cannot be sold or distributed to another party without the consent of the copyright owner.
When you purchase authorized software, you receive user guides and tutorials, quick reference cards, security updates, the opportunity to purchase upgrades, and technical support from the software publishers. For most software programs, you can read about user benefits on their website.
Many employees don’t realize that corporations are bound by the copyright laws, just like everyone else. Such conduct exposes the company (and possibly the persons involved) to liability for copyright infringement. As a result, more and more corporations concerned about their liability have written software usage policies. Employees may face disciplinary action if they make extra copies of the company’s software for use at home or on additional computers within the office. A good rule to remember is that there must be one authorized copy of a software product for every computer upon which it is run.
SIIA keeps the identities of its whistleblowers confidential. We have never revealed the identity of a source without the consent of that source. We also do not sue individuals who may have loaded software onto their employers’ systems.
We need this information so our investigators can determine the accuracy of the report you are filing We urge you to compete the form to the best of your ability. You must complete all the asterisk (*) marked fields. The form will not be accepted without this information.
SIIA processes all piracy reports received. We receive about 120-150 reports a month, but each report is reviewed for accuracy, reliability, completeness, and timeliness. Our approach is very conservative — we will only pursue a case where we feel confident that we have reliable and extensive information that the target organization is pirating software. As a result, of the 120-150 reports we receive a month, we only pursue about 25-30 of them. In short, if a company is contacted by us about software piracy, that company should know we have some reliable and credible information demonstrating piracy.
Once we decide to pursue a case, SIIA (or its outside counsel) contacts the president or other high-ranking officer at the company via letter and phone to request that the company voluntarily audit its workstations for software. More often than not, the company conducts an audit. Then, the company provides SIIA with a copy of the audit results that show the names and number of software programs loaded onto its workstations. The company will also provide SIIA with documentation to try and prove that it has sufficient licenses for the software. One of three things happen then:
- If unauthorized software is found, the company must license enough copies of the software, pay a fine equal to a multiple of the software and adopt and implement company-wide software compliance policies.
- If no unauthorized software is found in this audit process, the case is closed.
If the company refuses to conduct an audit, SIIA may sue the company for copyright infringement on behalf of its members.
No, SIIA has a long-standing policy of protecting the confidentiality of those who report to us. We will not reveal the name, or any identifying information, about the reporting source unless the identity is requested by a law enforcement authority or court subpoena. SIIA is required by law to disclose the identity then. We have never had to reveal the identity of a source that wishes to be anonymous. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to give us your name and contact information in case a question comes up during our investigation.
We need this information so our investigators can contact you for additional information if necessary. This information also helps us determine the accuracy and veracity of the report you are filing We urge you to compete the form to the best of your ability. If you are completing a report form online, you must complete all the asterisk (*) marked fields. The form will not be accepted without this information.
It depends. The length of an investigation could vary greatly depending upon the individual circumstances of the case and the level of cooperation from the company we are investigating. Generally, cases may be pending for nine months to a year.
SIIA does not update or report the status of cases to sources because we have hundreds of active cases at any given time. If we require further information in a case, an SIIA staff member will contact you. However, if you have previously made a report to SIIA and become aware of any additional information in the case that might be helpful, please contact us immediately at (800) 388-7478.
No. SIIA’s Reward Program only applies to cases of corporate end-user piracy.