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Penalties for Software Piracy

Illegal distribution of software can subject a seller to arrest and felony charges with fines up to US$250,000 and prison terms of up to 5 years.

In civil litigation against infringers trafficking in or using ProForce Software Corporation product(s) that are illegally distributed or reproduced, ProForce Software Corporation can obtain the higher of its lost profits, the infringer's profits, or statutory damages of up to US$100,000 per product, per infringement, in addition to recovery of ProForce Software Corporations' attorneys' fees in the action.

The names of persons responsible for distribution of illegal ProForce Software Corporation software are retained and ProForce Software Corporation will seek criminal or civil prosecution of any repeat offenders.

No waiver of any rights is made or intended by ProForce Software Corporation with respect to first- time offenders.

ProForce Software Corporation has, and will continue to pursue many first-time offenders. ProForce Software Corporation pursues offenders regardless of size or location.

In 1997, piracy cost the software industry US$2.8 billion in the US alone. The downside of acquiring pirated software are clear: pirated products can carry viruses and often do not come with documentation; in addition, consumers cannot receive upgrades or technical support for pirated software.

Please use our form to report suspected software piracy. If you prefer to speak with an anti-piracy representative, please call our toll free hotline: 1-800-651-5520. If the information you provide turns into a corporate lead and if we get the company to legalize (by buying genuine ProForce software), ProForce will provide you with a free copy of any software title we make.


Federal Piracy Press Release: Click here

Report Piracy Form: Click here


Anti-Piracy FAQ

If I was instructed by my employer to install illegal software onto company computers, who could be held liable?

Under "vicarious liability" of the US Copyright Act, an employer is liable for acts committed by its employees when those acts are within the scope of their employment duties. Another theory of liability is the doctrine of contributory copyright infringement, whereby a party who does not do an infringing act but who aids or encourages it is liable for the infringement.

Can I take a piece of software owned by my company and install it on my personal computer at home if instructed by my supervisor?

A good rule of thumb to follow is one software package per computer, unless the terms of the license agreement allow for multiple use of the program. But some software publishers' licenses allow for "remote" or "home" use of their software. If you travel or telecommute, you may be permitted to copy your software onto a second machine for use when you are not at your office computer. Check the license carefully to see if you are allowed to do this.

Is it legal to install an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) version of software on a computer other than the one in which the software came with?

OEM software is only distributed when sold with specified accompanying hardware. When these programs are copied and/or sold separately from the hardware, this is a violation of the contract with the publisher, and therefore illegal.

Can I rent a piece of software from a store?

The Software Rental Amendments Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-650) prohibits the rental, leasing, or lending of software without the express permission of the copyright holder.

Can I purchase a single licensed copy of a piece of software and load it onto several machines?

This is known as "softlifting," which is contrary to the terms of a license agreement. This includes sharing with friends and coworkers and installing software on home/laptop computers if not allowed by the license.

Can I give or sell a "backup copy" of a licensed program to other people?

A "backup copy" can be used for "archival purposes only." This copy cannot be sold or distributed to another party without the consent of the copyright owner.

What are the maximum civil penalties for copyright infringement?

In the United States, the infringer is liable for damages suffered by the copyright owner plus any profits of the infringer that are attributable to the copying or statutory damages of up to $150,000 for each work infringed.

What are the maximum criminal penalties for copyright infringement?

In the US, the infringer could be fined up to $250,000 and jail terms of up to five years.

In 1997. An undercover FBI operation revealed that PWA operated a major FTP website called "Sentinel" that allowed members to download thousands of copyrighted software programs for free.

Five of the PWA members are former employees of Intel Corp., four of which were found to have provided hardware capable of distributing the 5,000 software titles that were present on the "Sentinel" site.

Are pirated software and other forms of copyright infringement protected by the First Amendment?

The First Amendment is not a defense for committing copyright infringement. Harper & Row Pub., Inc. v. Nation Enterprises, 471 U.S. 539, 105 S.Ct. 2218 (1985). Conversely, copyright laws are not restrictions on free speech, but instead provide protection to speech and expression. By doing so, copyright laws seek to promote creativity and the wide dissemination of ideas. Therefore, the unlawful reproduction and distribution of copyrighted material is not protected by the First Amendment and is considered copyright infringement under Federal law. In addition, inducing, causing or materially contributing to the commission of a direct infringement may constitute contributory infringement under Federal law. Material contained in a web site to promote a direct infringement in this manner, may, therefore, constitute contributory infringement and is not protected by the First Amendment.

Is there a knowledge requirement for copyright infringement?

Copyright law is a strict liability tort and does not require the entity committing the infringement, or responsible for the infringement, to be aware that their actions are in violation of law. The absence of knowledge, or even intent, does not negate the infringement and is not a defense. Contributory copyright infringement requires that the entity know, or should have known, that they were inducing, causing or materially contributing to the commission of a direct infringement. Material or activity which promotes the commission of an infringement, therefore, may constitute contributory infringement. This type of activity is also not protected by the First Amendment.


Applying these principles, server operators have the legal right to monitor and prohibit publicly displayed material if they believe it to represent an infringement. Such activity by server operators would not constitute a violation of the First Amendment because, in most cases, only the government can violate First Amendment rights and because the First Amendment is not a defense against copyright infringement. In addition, server operators, regardless of knowledge, may be held liable for copyright infringement. Finally, server operators who protect against copyright infringement, by prohibiting certain material that may represent an infringement, are acting in a manner conducive to current law which does not violate the First Amendment or place them in the role of a publisher. Server operators may choose to act as publishers in other capacities, but actively preventing a violation of law does not place them in that role. Instead, it reduces their potential liability by ensuring adherence to the law. n.




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