Software piracy is a huge problem. The International Anticounterfeiting Coalition estimates that counterfeiting is a $600 billion a year problem. They also estimate that the problem has grown 10,000 percent in the past two decades.
More specific to the counterfeit software part of the all of this was revealed in a Business Software Alliance (BSA) and IDA white paper released in May estimating the problem at $40 billion a year.
Pirated software might not work as well as it is supposed to and it might even contain malicious software, which is often referred to as crimeware. The person, who puts this on their system is likely to have all the personal and financial details stolen and become an identity theft statistic.
Microsoft has a site to help consumers identify counterfeit software. Earlier this month, they filed 52 lawsuits and referred 22 cases for criminal investigation based on an investigation -- jointly conducted with the FBI and Chineses authorities -- into a counterfeiting syndicate based out of China.
Microsoft has also worked with eBay and information is also available on their site on how to avoid buying counterfeit software, here.
A lot of pirated software is sold on auction sites. The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) has launched a campaign to go after this problem on auction sites because they believe a lot of auction consumers are being defrauded when pirated software is sold as the real McCoy.
From the SIIA press release on this campaign:
“The sale of pirated software doesn’t only hurt the software industry,” said Keith Kupferschmid, Senior VP Intellectual Property Policy & Enforcement. “It also hurts consumers. Consumers feel “taken” when they buy software, only to find out when it arrives that the software is a fake -- they did not get an instruction manual or can’t get support from the software company. The Don’t Get Mad, Get Even program is a way for unsuspecting buyers to get even with auction sellers who rip them off by selling them counterfeit software.”
SIIA press release on reward, here.
Counterfeiting is a huge problem which hurts economies (takes jobs) and funds organized criminal and some say (terrorist?) activity. It also puts the person, who inadvertantly buys it at a fair amount of personal risk. Everyone can help fight it by reporting it to the SIIA, or the other links I've included in this post.
Despite what some people believe, counterfeiting is far from a victimless crime!
SIIA home page, here.
BSA and IDA white paper on counterfeit software, here.