How to Protect Yourself From Software Piracy

By Hamilton Kiah
Estimated read time: 4 minutes, 27 seconds

Software piracy is a big problem that’s costing developers and companies some serious money. In 2018 alone, revenue losses from using unlicensed software amounted to $27.3 billion worldwide, according to the Global Software Survey.

The good news is that software piracy prevention techniques have drastically improved over the years to make it easier than ever for businesses to focus on software privacy prevention. The bad news is that violators are continually getting more creative with their piracy methods to bypass these evolving prevention techniques.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to protect yourself from software piracy, what it is, and all the best practices you can adopt to avoid it.

What is software piracy?

Simply put, software piracy is when someone steals software. 

More specifically, it’s when someone buys a piece of software, makes illegal copies of it, then distributes it to other people. Because those who download the software don’t pay for it, the creator or developer doesn’t get proper compensation for their work.

It’s the equivalent of driving a new car home without paying for it.

Software piracy often involves hacking the source code of the application to bypass any anti-software piracy solutions that will generally prevent such acts. You’ll often see these as “cracked” versions of the same software.

Another form of software piracy is when people can allow multiple users to use a single instance of licensed software over a network when it is more than what most software agreements state. In this version of software piracy, the distribution of the pirated software distribution isn’t even necessary. It’s akin to a breach of contract, making it illegal as well.

In the United States, software piracy is a serious crime that can cost violators up to $150,000 in fines if caught. It’s also illegal in the rest of the world, although countries vary in how effective they are in combating software piracy and will have different methods of responding to it.

Best practices on how to avoid software piracy

Tackling piracy is a massive challenge for any company, but it’s not impossible by any means. Here are some simple ways on how to stop software piracy in your organization (or discourage it, at the very least).

  • Restrict software installation to a few key people. Tightly controlling admin rights in your company is one of the easiest ways to prevent software piracy. Don’t give everyone the privilege of installing and modifying applications on their computers. Such rights are best left to a network or IT administrator. Having only one or two authorized people in your organization makes for easier control and better accountability.
  • Make sure you have enough licenses for all users. Sometimes, employees download pirated software because they need to use that application at the moment but don’t have enough time to request it from the IT department. Make sure this doesn’t happen by anticipating what software your employees might need, then getting enough licenses for them.
  • Perform a regular software audit. One of the more effective methods of preventing software piracy is performing a regular audit of your network and computers. You need to track and monitor each piece of software on every workstation, which means It might be a time-consuming process, but it can save you money down the road.

Why you should care about software piracy

As you’re thinking about how to protect yourself from software piracy, you might wonder why this matters to your company in the first place. The truth is that software piracy can hurt your business both now and in the future. 

Software piracy poses a severe security risk to your organization’s network. Most illegal software comes from shady sources, so there’s a big chance that they contain viruses and malware. Worse, hackers can use these illegal programs to hack into your network and steal sensitive information.

Pirated software also has zero guarantees that it will work properly. Most piracy involves modifying the source code of the application, which might affect its functionality. You also miss out on essential patches and security updates from the developer. In the long run, pirated software might lower your overall productivity with unnecessary downtimes.

How to avoid penalty fees

One of the biggest dangers in letting software piracy through the cracks is getting fines from the BSA, also known as the Software Alliance. Penalties can be as much as three to five times the cost of the software. They’ll even consider imprisonment for more serious offenders.

Are you wondering how to reduce software piracy and avoid these fees? The best way is to only buy your software and hardware from legitimate sources or official resellers. Less than honest retailers might install counterfeit operating systems or bundled software to reduce the cost or raise their profit. 

Key Takeaway: Use Digital Rights Management Software to Help Protect Yourself from Software Piracy

With a full-service ecommerce solution like FastSpring, you have access to Digital Rights Management software that will help you ensure your software is getting into the hands of your paying customers and not being pirated. Interested in learning more about how you can safely monetize your software with the help of a Digital Rights Management solution? Check out our webinar featuring David Rowley, Chief Revenue Officer at Nalpeiron.

Hamilton Kiah

Hamilton is a passionate transmedia storyteller focused on every digital touchpoint. Hamilton brings almost twenty years of digital media design and SEO experience to his role as Digital Media Strategist at FastSpring. When he’s not designing beautiful and functional creative or leading SEO strategy, you can find him enjoying the outdoors, spending time with family, or going on long distance bike rides.

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