The SCG Blog

The Top 7 Excuses Used by Software Infringers

August 05, 2015


Meishan Piao
Director, Global Compliance


Over the years we have dealt with various software vendors on countless software infringement cases globally. Even though no case is ever identical, we have seen a growing trend of the same excuses being used over and over by the software infringers. As boastful as it sounds, there aren’t a lot of piracy excuses we haven’t already heard. Today, we’re going to review the top reasons we hear why people are using unlicensed software.

1. “Our software is outdated.”
Many businesses opt out of software maintenance after the first year, due to budgetary reasons. You may think you can get by with the current software version. But have you considered the things you lose when the software maintenance expires?  These includes tech support, bug fixes and software updates.

Technology is constantly evolving and so are your clients’ requirements. We recommend that you continue your software maintenance and support services so you’re always up-to-date and aren’t tempted to use an unlicensed copy of the latest version.

2. “We needed more features than what we have.”
Speaking of software maintenance and support services, most software vendors will not let you add additional features unless the maintenance contract on your existing license is current. If your business requires additional functionality, do the right thing by purchasing the appropriate licenses. Avoid the risks and liabilities that come with using an unauthorized copy.

3. “We needed more copies of the software.”
Many software infringers we come across own legitimate licenses, but find that they want the software installed on more computers. Having one software license rarely allows you to install it on more than one PC (check your end user license agreement for details). If you need more licenses, pick up the phone and contact your account rep.

4. “We thought we downloaded a trial.”
If you are looking for trial (or demo) versions of an application, be sure to download it directly from the vendor’s website (or an authorized reseller). Most trial versions are set to expire after a specified period of time and do not require a serial number or activation key for the trial period. If you obtain a “trial” that never expires be aware that it is most likely too good to be true and you have an unauthorized copy.

5. “We do not have the funds to purchase legitimate licenses.”
Software infringers often blame the unlicensed usage on the economy. We hear people argue that “business is slow and there is no budget to invest in software.” We understand the challenges that businesses face, but you’re depriving another business of needed revenue when you use unlicensed software.

6. “It wasn’t us. It was a former ‘rogue’ employee.”
This is by far the most popular excuse we hear. It’s easy to put the blame on a “rogue” employee who is no longer part of the organization. Whether it’s a former or current employee, your business is still liable for its use and any benefits derived.

7. “I am just a poor student!”
Many software vendors offer affordable educational licenses and students should work with their schools to obtain the applications they need. Additionally, businesses should be aware that educational licenses cannot be used in a commercial setting.

As compliance professionals, we understand that this subject is often uncomfortable for business owners who often are unaware that unlicensed software is even being used. Unfortunately, using unlicensed software is a serious matter, and you, as the business owner, may be held liable under both civil and criminal law when you get caught.

As you can tell, we’ve heard all the excuses, but more often than not we’re able to resolve these matters amicably and in a manner that is mutually beneficial to both parties.

View & Submit Comments