Quick tips to discern and evade pirated software

Avoiding pirated software can protect your system from potential bugs, system crashes, and costly viruses. To stay safe, you need to understand how such software gets into the market and onto your computers.

Adobe-logoAdobe recommends these quick tips to protect you and your business: 

  • The most common form of piracy is ‘end-user piracy’. End-user abuse occurs when you or your company uses one licensed copy to install a program on multiple computers or servers, when you copy disks for installation and distribution, when you acquire academic or other restricted software to use for an unqualified purpose or when you swap disks inside or outside the workplace. Without the right license you are ineligible for support, training, or upgrades. Make sure people in your company know the risks of inadvertently making unlicensed copies of software. 
  • Pirates offer illegal software for download over the internet in a number of ways. Different ruses used by pirate websites include:
    • A website offering free downloads in exchange for uploading another program (taking advantage of an offer like this makes you a software pirate yourself)
    • Online distributors offering special deals supposedly on behalf of the software publisher, such as inventory liquidation or bankruptcy sales
    • Internet auction sites that offer counterfeit, out-of-channel, or otherwise pirated software
    • Peer-to-peer networks that enable unauthorized transfer of copyrighted programs 
  • Hard-disk loading- When computer vendors load illegal copies of software onto the hard disk to make the purchase more attractive, it is known as hard-disk loading. Value-added resellers (VARs) should not load illegal software when developing and implementing enterprise solutions in the workplace. And knowledgeable consumers must assure that there are no pre-installed programs on purchased computers, especially when dealing with resellers. 
  • Software counterfeiting- Counterfeiters illegally duplicate and sell copyrighted materials to unsuspecting customers who believe they’re purchasing genuine software. It’s difficult to identify counterfeit software because it often comes with sophisticated packaging, manuals, and even registration cards. Customers often first learn they’ve bought counterfeit software when they attempt to register it and can’t, which may make it work improperly or not at all. 

Besides being illegal, pirated software may threaten your professional reputation, data and privacy and waste your money. Ensure that you are always buying and using genuine software. 

Protect yourself

The best way to protect yourself is to deal with legitimate, reputable vendors. Check if your software provider has a web store where you can make a purchase.

  • Be careful if you are given software in a generic packaging, or if the packaging is missing, or if the case comes to you with no instructions, no activation code, and handwritten information are bootleg copies.
  • Special instructions to activate your software, over and above the activation code, are a red flag too; be wary of them.
  • Descriptions that claim they are a full version but warn that you will only receive CDs are usually illegal copies.
  • Reputable companies will also offer warranties or a refund period, so you should be wary of anyone who does not stand behind the products they are selling.
  • Most reputable software sellers developed an online presence years ago. Be wary of anyone who has not been online very long, or if it does not provide a full address and phone number, or if its domain name is a series of numbers rather than an actual name.
  • Finally, if the seller states that the software cannot be registered, you’re being given a pirated version 


Reporting pirated software is easily done on the internet. Software sites like Adobe have anti-piracy information and details on how you can report piracy and help put a stop to this detrimental activity.

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