Are there different types of software piracy? Is one type of piracy less damaging than any other?

There are five basic forms of software piracy, and all are damaging both to the software publisher and to you, the end user. The following are the five basic types of piracy:


End user copying: Simple, unlicensed copying by individuals or businesses. Or, in the case of volume licensees, it can mean underreporting the number of computers on which software is installed.


Hard-Disk Loading: Practiced by dishonest computer system builders who sell PCs with illicit software preinstalled. Dealers use one legally acquired copy illegally for installation on many machines. Disks and documentation are often missing or incomplete. Occasionally, the unlicensed software is counterfeit media or documentation, which is then sold to end users unaware of the software's illegal status.


Counterfeiting: Software piracy on a grand scale, in which software and its packaging is illegally duplicated, often by organized crime rings, then redistributed as supposedly legal products.


Online: This form of piracy occurs when copyrighted software is downloaded by a user connected via a modem to the Internet without the express permission of the copyright owner.


License Misuse: Software distributed under special discount licenses, either to high-volume customers, computer manufacturers, or academic institutions, that is then redistributed to others who do not hold or qualify for these licenses.

Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) stand-alone product. This form of license misuse occurs when OEM version software has been unbundled from its designated computer system and distributed as a separate (or stand-alone) product. The Microsoft agreement with computer manufacturers prohibits them from distributing Microsoft products in this fashion, that is, without accompanying computer hardware. Microsoft products on the retail shelf should never include a line on the front cover of the User's Guide that states, "For Distribution Only With New Computer Hardware."

Academic product misuse. This form of license misuse occurs when a product that is manufactured, licensed, and specifically marked for distribution to educational institutions and students at reduced prices is diverted into normal commercial channels of distribution. Typically this product will contain a sticker indicating that it is an academic product and for use only by educational institutions.

Not for Resale (NFR) product misuse. Again, this form of license misuse occurs when a product that has been clearly marked "Not for Resale," and is typically distributed as a promotional or sample product and is not licensed for normal commercial distribution and use, is diverted into normal commercial channels of distribution.

Microsoft World Wide Fulfillment (WWF) product misuse. This form of license misuse occurs when an WWF product is diverted into normal commercial channels of distribution. The WWF product may be distributed only to end users who have a Select or Open license and who order the product in accordance with their license terms. The WWF product has a sticker on the jewel case identifying the product as "Microsoft World Wide Fulfillment."

Volume licensing misuse. Volume licensing enables organizations to acquire the rights to copy and use specific Microsoft software products with agreements tailored to the number of products needed at the particular organization. These volume programs offer a broad range of products and licensing options and reduce administrative overhead and software management costs.

Questions and answers about the End User License Agreement

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