When someone installs and uses commercial software without paying for the program, it is called "pirating" the software. This name comes from the traditional meaning of the word "pirate," which is a sea-faring criminal that steals and loots belongings from others. But far from the stereotypical sea pirate, a software pirate can be anyone who owns a computer. Software piracy is committed by simply downloading or copying a program that a user has not paid for.
Since computer programs are stored in a digital format, they are easy to copy and reproduce. For example, a game may be burned to a CD and transferred to the computer of an individual who has not paid for the program. Software programs can also be illegally downloaded from the Internet from unauthorized sources. Since pirating software does not require many resources, it has grown into a major problem for the computer industry.
While it may seem like an innocuous act, pirating software is the same as stealing. Software companies often invest thousands or even millions of dollars into creating the programs they sell. The income from selling these programs is what allows companies to produce the software and to continue improving the programs we use. Just because it is possible to copy a software program does not mean it is OK. Installing a commercial program from an illegal copy is the same thing as walking out of a store with the program and not paying for it.
While there are some programs that are free to use (such as shareware and freeware programs), it is important to pay for commercial software. You can avoid software piracy by only downloading software from authorized sources and making sure that you have valid software licenses for all the programs you use. Remember that paying for software programs supports the software industry, which is good for all of us!
Updated: July 18, 2008