The ICT Lounge
Section 9.2:
Copyright Legislation
The illegal obtaining of software is a growing growing concern and it is so easy to do using a computer. Software can be illegally obtained in many ways including:
  • Downloading
  • Copying
  • Loaning
Learning objectives of this section:
Know what is meant by audience.
Understand that ICT solutions have to be designed closely for an audience.
Be able to analyse the needs of an audience.

Software Copyright Theft (Piracy)
Key Words:
Copyright, Piracy, Serial Numbers, Hologram, Licensing
"Downloading, copying or borrowing software (for free) without the permission of the owner"

Overview of software copyright:
Anti-piracy laws exist to help prevent the illegal obtaining of software.
Downloading software without permission is illegal.
Software should be paid for on every computer that it is to be used on.
Copying software code and using it elsewhere is also illegal.
To adhere to copyright laws, all software should be purchased.
Software is often developed at massive costs (both financially and in terms of time) by companies and individuals.

Because software is digital, it is very easy to either download illegally from the internet or to make copies of it without the permission of the owner. (i.e. copying a CD or downloading from piratebay). This is often called 'Software Piracy'.

Laws exist to help prevent people from downloading or copying software for free without the permission of the owners.

What do these laws cover?
Software copyright laws are used by companies to try to prevent the unauthorised copying of their software.

These laws state that:
Software should not be copied, sold or given away to other people.

Software should not be used on a network of more users than you have paid for (e.g. 20 users instead of 10).

Renting out software without permission is illegal.

Stealing code from software and then using it in your own software product is illegal.

Using the name of copyright software on your product is illegal (Passing off your product as Microsoft Word for example).

An example of why software copyright laws are needed:
Without software copyright law, people could just download, copy and rip-off other people's hard work.

The example below shows why copying software is wrong:

So, by paying for your games, music, movies and other digital products, you are abiding by copyright law and supporting your favorite musicians, film makers and developers etc.

Some videos:

Here are some links to videos that contain more information about the issues that software piracy can cause:

Software Piracy Prevention
As well as laws, there are other methods that can be used to help prevent software piracy.

These methods include:
  • Serial numbers
  • Holograms
  • License agreements.
Serial numbers provide evidence that the software is genuine and original.
Holograms are used on copies of software that are genuine.
Licensing agreements tell users how they are allowed to use the software.
Serial numbers / Product Keys
When software is being installed, users are often asked to enter a unique number which proves the software is original.

Serial numbers and product keys are supplied with the original copy of the software.

Holograms are often used on the packaging of software and they indicate that the copy is genuine.

Software without a hologram on the packaging is usually an illegal copy as they are too difficult and costly to piraters to implement.

License agreements
Licence agreements are part of the software installation process and they inform the user exactly how they are legally allowed to use the product.

Users are required to 'agree to terms of use' before they can complete the installation. Any breach of this can mean prosecution and fining.

None of these methods can completely eliminate the illegal copying of software but
they do help.

Some videos:

Here are some links to videos that contain more information about how software piracy can be prevented:

Why is the Internet not policed?
Cyber anonymity:
Downloading software for free is the same as stealing physical items from a shop.
Internet fraud happens all the time and is very difficult to prosecute.
Different countries have different laws regarding the use of the Internet.
There are not enough trained Internet Crime Officers to make a significant impact on cyber crime.
Who can you report cyber crime to?
Currently, the Internet is not really monitored by a law enforcement agency and this provides cyber criminals a large degree of anonymity and protection.

If you stole a CD or a DVD from a shop, you would be arrested and prosecuted.

Every day, people illegally download software for free on the Internet without fear of consequence.
Downloading music, games, movies and software is absolutely no different from walking into a store and taking items without paying. It is theft!

It is not just illegal downloading that is a problem, crimes such as online fraud, computer hacking, child abuse and the use of other inappropriate sites happens over the Internet all too frequently.
Because some countries don't have laws against this.

All the cyber criminals have to do is commit the crime in a country where protection laws don't exist and they can get away with it.

Why not police the Internet?

There are a number of reasons why law enforcement agencies find it difficult to combat Internet crime. These are summarised below:

Legal jurisdictions
Most Internet crime takes places across different countries that have different legal jurisdictions.

For example: If someone in China downloaded a copy of Microsoft Windows, it would be very difficult for Microsoft to convince law enforcement in China to prosecute. It didn't happen in their country so it's not their problem!

Different laws
Different countries have different laws.

For example: A lot of the big file-sharing websites are hosted in countries like Russia and Sweden where there are no laws against downloading software for free.

Lack of training and qualified officers
Most agents and officers don't have specialized Internet crime and digital forensics training. Most police departments are lucky to have a single person who is qualified to carry out computer crime investigation.

Who do I report to?
There is no central law enforcement agency in the digital world, and people don't know where to report what.

For example: If someone tries to defraud me online, do I report it to Microsoft, Apple, the FBI, or my local police department?


Click the above task and answer the questions about
the issues surrounding software piracy.

Please add your questions/comments below:

Links to Theory Units:
Section 4: Networks and the Effects of using them
Section 6: ICT Applications
Section 7: The Systems Life Cycle
Section 8: Safety and Security
Section 10: Communication
Links to Practical Units:
Section 11: File Management
Section 12: Images
Section 13: layout
Section 14: Styles
Section 15: Proofing
Section 16: Graphs and Charts
Section 17: Document Production
Section 18: Data Manipulation
Section 19: Presentations
Section 20: Data Analysis
Section 21: Website Authoring