What is Software Piracy?

Software piracy is the unauthorized copying or distribution of copyrighted software. This can be done by copying, downloading, sharing, selling, or installing multiple copies onto personal or work computers. What a lot of people don't realise or don't think about is that when you purchase software, you are purchasing a licence to use it, not the actual software. That licence is what tells you how many times you can install the software, so it's important to read it. If you make more copies of the software than the licence permits, you are pirating.

Simply put, making or downloading unauthorised copies of software is breaking the law, no matter how many copies or people are involved.

Whether you are casually making a few copies for friends, loaning disks, distributing or downloading pirated software from the Internet, or buying a single software program and then installing it on multiple computers (including personal), you are committing copyright infringement—also known as software piracy.

It doesn’t matter if you are doing it to make money or not — if you or your company is caught copying software, you may be held liable under both civil and criminal law. In addition, introducing pirated software into your computing environment can open you up to the risk of damage to your network through defective software or malicious code.

Software Licence

A software licence is the right to use a particular software package within the terms established by the vendor. Buying a software licence differs in several ways from buying a packaged product. Normally, when you buy a retail version of a software package, the cost includes three components: the licence (the right to use), the installation media and a manual. When you buy a software licence you only acquire the right to use the software, and the cost generally reflects this. Purchasing the licence separately from the media and manuals makes it more economical for large organisations like the University to deploy software across several machines. It is important to note that purchasing the licence does not automatically entitle you to a copy of the installation media or manuals, nor is possession of the media or the manuals the same as owning a valid licence to use the software.

Site Licence

A site licence exists where an organisation has an agreement with a software company to use a specified number of copies of a software package within a defined site such as a Faculty, School, building or campus. Some site licences can be open-ended arrangements (for example, unlimited users across all campuses), while others might be restricted to a limited number of users within a specific organisational unit (for example, the site). In some cases, even though the University may hold a site licence for a particular package, it may not be centrally funded. In these cases, the cost is passed along to the end users, albeit for significantly less than the cost of buying the software outside of the site licence.

Volume Licence

Volume licensing arrangements are generally more straightforward, with a software vendor allowing the University to buy their products at a discounted rate on the basis of the volume of their software UQ already uses, or has agreed to purchase over a specified period. Volume licences are typically ordered as required, and in most cases are allocated on the basis of one licence per machine.

Concurrent Licence

Concurrent licences allow a limited number of licences to be shared amongst a larger number of users, on the understanding that the number of copies of the software in use will not exceed the number of concurrent licences purchased. Concurrent licensing should only be used where there is some means of ensuring that the correct number of licences is not exceeded.