• United States



by Paul L. Kerstein

How Can We Stop Software Piracy?

Jun 21, 20052 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Software piracy has become so prolific that some countries, such as China, are rewarding anyone with information that helps to stop electronic piracy with up to $36,000 for tips on theft of movies, music and other copyrighted materials.

Chinese piracy hotlines are open for any type of notification on illegal DVD peddling in city streets and the government claims to have shut down 200 illegal CD and DVD production lines from 1994 to 2004, paying over $4.8 million in rewards.

That $4+ mill could be a worthwhile tradeoff. According to a piracy study published by the Business Software Alliance and IDC (a sister company of CSO), China suffered $3.5 billion in piracy losses in 2004 which put them just behind the United States with $6.6 billion.

In North America, where piracy has cost software makers nearly $10.5 billion over the last five years, the U.S. Congress is on the case. Kind of. Last year, Congress passed The Intellectual Property Protection and Courts Amendments Act, which prohibits trafficking a counterfeit label to music, software or motion pictures, as well as providing false contact information when registering a domain name.

Companies are also taking the matter into their own hands, at least their own legal departments.

Apple brought three people to court recently for illegally distributing test copies of the new OS X Tiger operating system on Internet file-sharing services.

Earlier this month, Microsoft sued Wiston Group, a computer software reseller, for selling knockoff software that violated U.S. copyright and trademark laws. The software maker became aware of the problem after customers called the piracy hotline complaining about the software they purchased.

While governments and companies worldwide grapple with e-piracy on all levels, the pirates are able to stay at least one step ahead of the game. The sheer numbers alone, with nearly 100 million Americans having Internet access, allow for continuous opportunity.

Rewards, legislation, and court action have got to help, but can they win the war against software pirates? Is there another way? Tell us what you think.