Copying Software Is a Crime

Software is the computer programs, procedures or algorithms that give instructions to the computer telling it how to perform various tasks (Zeidman, 2011). The tasks may be what to do or how to it. The software performs the various functions of implementing programs. It may provide instructions to the computers’ hardware directly or act as an input to another software. The term may also mean data that is related to computers like records, film or tapes. Any data or computer instruction, which may be stored in electronic form, is software. There are different types of computer software like Application software, middleware or system software.

Ethics for computer users

Users of computer face ethical dilemmas everyday, the common one being software piracy. These may include ethical issues such as unlawful access to computer system and duplication of computer programs. A user may decide to reproduce public domain software, which are free. The developer of these public domain software decided that they are free. The other type of software is the shareware. The developer of shareware offers it to users to register and pay for it in case he is going to continue using it. Since small teams of experts develop most shareware, they cost less than the software sold by big name companies.

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They are mostly distributed with no upfront money required. Temporary use of most sharewares is free. Only by continual use of the shareware will the developers expect some remittance from you. The provider of the shareware can send upgraded versions to the registered users. Majority of software are copyrighted. This means that no one is authorized to copy them without paying for it. Copyrighted software is protected against duplication or use without payment. This makes software piracy an offence.

Ethics for the computer professionals

There are several computer professionals like computer programmers, computer designers, database administrators and many others. Since they understand how computers work, they can easily misuse the system (Fishman, 2007). Elements that relate to the conduct of the professionals include the following. Professionals should posses’ high standard of knowledge and skill. They should relate in a confidential manner with their clients. They should also observe the ethical code. The codes were created to enhance the professionalism amongst them.

Disadvantages of software Copying

Copying software causes a great deal of harm. One of the main disadvantages is the loss that developers get. Writing software needs a lot of skills, effort and time. A team of experts develops most of the packages. The experts required for this purpose are the programmers and analysts. This team requires some payment for their time, efforts and skills. If someone copies the software instead of buying, then the developers will not get sufficient money from their hard work. The results are that the team will be discouraged from developing more software. In order to generate enough money, they may decide to raise the raise of using their program thus making it more expensive for everyone who wants to use it.

Unauthorized use of shareware that is copyrighted is illegal and may result into punishment by law through the federal law; one is liable for civil and criminal penalties if he is involved in the illegal Copying of software. If the one involved in the unauthorized duplication is an employee, these two penalties apply to the employer as well. Companies may be prosecuted if they illegally duplicate software.

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The illustration of the effects of Copying software is clearly visible from the data obtained in the state of Utah. In 1997, this state lost more than 1500 jobs. Approximately $ 200 million was also lost in revenue. The figures kept increasing year after year. Throughout the US, the estimates are astonishing. In 2001, more than 100, 000jobs were lost with approximately $ 5 billion in wages. The software industry lost a Whooping $ 33 billion due to copying software. In addition to the financial losses, Copying software negatively affects the society as a whole. Since developers are discouraged, they do not produce new quality products.

The discouragement is compounded by the fact that even when publishers try to improve on their products to protect them from theft, users invent better technology of illegally stealing the software. Lack of quality products may seem to be a small problem initially but has the effect of compounding and becoming bigger quickly hence affecting the entire economy. Those who engage in this vie should realize the extent of the problem they create.

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The various technologies involved with copying of software are Kazaa, BitTorrents and Limewire. Actually, the technology has been progressing from Kazaa and Limewire to the latest, which is the BitTorrent. There is also the Rapid share technology, which requires registration before one downloads its files. Others are more difficult to download since they require to be cracked first before a user can download its files. These include Adobe and Microsoft systems. These systems work in a challenging manner. The program is designed in two parts. One part lets the user in, while the other is altered in such away that it does not execute.

For one to download it, he must have a CD key. The CD key has a keygen that disassembles and is able to tell the assembly code required for the software. The routine that tells that the key is the correct one is therefore established. This is the technology that some users reverse and obtain the right code. Ethically, software coping amounts to stealing other peoples labor. This makes the action unethical and illegal. Copyright law protects all the authors, publishers and developers of software from the thieves.

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Lack of precise statistics on the amount of software Copying or the resultant economic loss suffered by the victims is caused by two reasons. Most of the copying is done without the knowledge of the developers hence the authorities never receive reports about them. The other reason is that the losses are difficult to calculate due to the complicated factors related to them. However, the authorities and the copyrights watchdog unanimously agree that the number of software copying is increasing.

Causes of copying

Many people who engage in this crime give various reasons for their actions. Most of them claim that they cannot differentiate between free software and share ware. The ease of downloading the software is another reason that they give. The other reason which is somehow genuine is that some of the software do not have the copyrights alert. They do not have the information informing the user that the software is copyrighted (Phillips, 2009). Users therefore take this as an advantage and download the software. There are cases where coping is considered as legal. If one copies in these circumstances then he is not liable for prosecution. If a lawful owner of a program copies or makes adaptations, he cannot be prosecuted. Coping in such a case is only prohibited if the author specifically denies users this provision. The custom implies that if you purchase a computer programs, you have the right to use it on a single computer.

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The Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. 117) allows users to make such copies. The copy is limited to be used only in the users’ achieves. If he sells or transfer the copy, he may be prosecuted. The provision also requires that once the original copy becomes obsolete, the copies should be destroyed. However, authorization of from the producer or the developer of the program is required if there are modifications of the program to be made. There are agreements that someone purchasing a computer program acquires certain rights concerning the use of the programs. Some of the agreements include single user license.

This means that the purchaser of any program acquires the right to install and operate it on a single computer. Should he copy the program and use it on more than one computer, he can be prosecuted. The only option he has is to transfer the program from a single computer to another. Transfer of such is legal and acceptable if the software is physically detached and installed in a different computer. If the user license does not have conditions for development of buck up copy, then making one is legal. This is allowed in the copyright act. If a user has a site license, he can copy software into several computers, which are located in a single location. Multiuser license allows several users the access to a single program, which they use simultaneously.

The fight against Copying software must proceed until a solution is achieved. Software publishers and authors are becoming more aware of not only of the vice but also its effects. They take precautions to prevent it. The measures that they put forward include registration numbers. A user must have the number for him to download the software. Organizations that monitoring illegal use of software are on the rise and are becoming more vigilant. Examples of such organizations include the business software alliance (BSA). BSA operates more than 60 hotlines from different parts of the globe. Callers report incidences of suspected software piracy.


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