Software Piracy and Copyright Law

Software Piracy and Copyright Law

After reading this article you can -

Describe the event of software piracy;

Explain the importance of copyright law;

Software Piracy – Definition

Software piracy is the act of stealing software that is legally protected. This stealing includes copying, distributing, modifying or selling the software.

Copyright laws were originally put into place so that the people who develop software (programmers, writers, graphic artists, etc.) would get the proper credit and compensation for their work. When software piracy occurs, compensation is stolen from these copyright holders.

The objective of copyright law is to provide the writers, artists, and other with the exclusive right to their creative work. Usually it is expensive and difficult to reprint any book by violating the copyright law, but now it is easy to make 'copy' or 'facsimile' using computer technology. It is not required to be an expert for doing the job. Therefore additional measure is taken to protect the copyright of computer software, graphics, and animation. When the legal right is violated, he is deprived of his copyright. It is usually called 'Piracy' or 'Software Piracy'.

The concerned entrepreneurs, writers or programmers can preserve the right to their intellectual property within the purview of copyright law. That is why it is illegal either to copy or create something new editing the software without the concern of the copyright holders. Therefore, the copy or the new creation has no legal protection. Even though it is easy to pirate computer software, the malpractice is not very frequent in the world. The renowned software companies have formed an agency named 'Business Software Alliance' (BSA) to preserve their copyright and to monitor piracy worldwide. The statement given by the agency in 2011 shows that 7 out of 10 computer users are free from piracy. As software piracy is an easy job, it is difficult to get the right statistics. Software piracy is strictly prohibited in Bangladesh.

The Urgency of Copyright Law

The copyright law ensures the right or ownership of the creators of his works for a certain time. If the creation has any commercial value, the creator should get it. As poets, litterateur, movie producers, software writers, web designers all require money and web designers earn their living from creative work, they invest labour, intellect, and money in it. They invest money for their labour and merit of creative works. Therefore they should have the right to get their money back either by selling the products or through exchange. The legal right within the purview of copyright law has given them the advantages. Artists or programmers get disappointed if they fail to gain any financial benefits for their creative or intellectual properties. The implementation of copyright law will save the creative workers from being deprived.

Right to Information and Security

The law of 'Right to Information' is enacted and implemented in different countries of the world to ensure the free flow of information and people's right to have information. 'Freedom of thought, conscience, speech' right to obtain information has been assented as the fundamental right of the citizen's in the constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. As all powers in the Republic belong to the people, a law called 'Right to Information Act-2009' has been enacted to ensure the right of having information. Every citizen has the right to get information from any authority whenever it is sought under the act, and the concerned authority is compelled to provide the information if asked. If people's right to information is ensured through this act, the transperancy and accountability of the government, autonomous, statutory organizations, and NGOs funded by the government and foreign organisations will be increased, and corruption will be reduced, and good governance will be established. The right to information has been ensured under the Act and directives have been given to the organisations to preserve information.

The Act has ensured access to important information of the state. The accessibility of government-held information is an important part of government transparency and accountability to its citizens and good governance. However, seeking and receiving information that may jeopardise the security of the state is not permissible in the Act. For example, the Act does not allow access to questions before the public examinations because the exam processes will become controversial. The secrecy of question papers is  secured through 'Right to Information Act'. If technical, technological, or scientific information is leaked out, the organisations stand to lose financially. In this connection, keeping the information secret is not the violation of the rule. The most important factor is that any information that may pose a threat to the security, unity and sovereignty of the state is not obligatory to reveal under this act.

Under section 7 of the Act, the authority is not obliged to provide certain information, such as:

(i) Any information that poses threat to the the security, integrity, and sovereignty of Bangladesh; if disclosed;

(ii) Any information in relation to the foreign policy, disclosure of which may jeopardise the relationship with foreign countries, international organisations, local bodies, and organisations;

(iii) Any confidential information received from the foreign governments;

(iv) Any confidential sensitive business information, the disclosure of which may violate the intellectual property right of the third-party and any information in relation to Copy Right and Intellectual Property Right;

a. any advance information of tax, revenues, VAT, excise duty, budget, or tax rate changes;

b. any advance information on changes in currency exchange rate or tax rate;

c. any advance information in relation to administration and management of banks and other commercial organisations;

(v) information, for the disclosure of which may hinder implementation of law or increase the rate of crime;

(vi) Any information, the disclosure of which may hamper the safety and security of population and may impede a due judicial process;

(vii) Any information, the disclosure of which may disturb the privacy of individual personal life;

(viii) Any information, the disclosure of which may endanger individual life and physical safety

(ix) Any classified information given to law enforcement agencies;

But, it has been laid down in section - 8(9) of the act, that, any information should not be refused by the authority only for the reason that, it is related with the information the disclosure of which is not compulsory rather the information should be separated reasonably and delivered to the applicant.

Software Piracy Regulation

Computer piracy is illegal and constitutes a federal crime. The monetary penalties for those who break this law can reach up to $150,000 per instance of copyright violation.

End-User License Agreement

The End-User License Agreement (EULA) is a license used for most software. It is a contract between the manufacturer and/or author and the end user. This agreement defines rules for software use and not every agreement is the same. One common rule in most EULAs prohibits users from sharing the software with others.

Types of Software Piracy

There are five main types of software piracy. This variety of pirating techniques explains how some individuals purposely pirate software while others may unknowingly be an accomplice.

Softlifting

Softlifting is when someone purchases one version of the software and downloads it onto multiple computers, even though the software license states it should only be downloaded once. This often occurs in business or school environments and is usually done to save money. Softlifting is the most common type of software piracy.

Client-server overuse

Client-server overuse is when too many people on a network use one main copy of the program at the same time. This often happens when businesses are on a local area network and download the software for all employees to use. This becomes a type of software piracy if the license doesn’t entitle you to use it multiple times.

Hard disk loading

Hard disk loading is a type of commercial software piracy in which someone buys a legal version of the software and then reproduces, copies or installs it onto computer hard disks. The person then sells the product. This often happens at PC resale shops and buyers aren’t always aware that the additional software they are buying is illegal.

Counterfeiting

Counterfeiting occurs when software programs are illegally duplicated and sold with the appearance of authenticity. Counterfeit software is usually sold at a discounted price in comparison to the legitimate software.

Online Piracy

Online piracy, also known as Internet piracy, is when illegal software is sold, shared or acquired by means of the Internet. This is usually done through a peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing system, which is usually found in the form of online auction sites and blogs.

The Dangers of Software Piracy

Software piracy may have a cheaper price point, but there are many dangers that software pirates should be aware of.

Consequences of software piracy are:

·        Increased chances that the software will malfunction or fail

·        Forfeited access to support for the program such as training, upgrades, customer support and bug fixes

·        No warranty and the software can’t be updated

·        Increased risk of infecting your PC with malware, viruses or adware

·        Slowed down PC

·        Legal repercussions due to copyright infringement

Keep your PC secure by only purchasing software from authorized dealers. Be aware of any software’s terms and conditions — make sure you agree and adhere to their guidelines. 

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