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Piracy in the Computer World

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Piracy in the Computer World

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  • August 7, 2005
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Software piracy is an all too common predicament in the technology industry. The official definition of the term "piracy" is the unauthorized use of another's production, invention, or conception especially in infringement of a copyright . It is an offense many of us commit without knowing the implications of doing so, like copying a CD to give to a family member or friend. What many people are unaware of is that this act cheats the United States and the world out of jobs and revenue. Using the stance of duty ethics, I will further explain piracy, its challenges, and possible solutions.

The 1995 case of Microsoft v. Grey Computer is one of the few examples of a piracy case going to civil trial. The basic facts in this case is that Microsoft was alleging that Grey Computer was selling counterfeit versions of Microsoft products, thus violating Microsoft's copyright. The court determined that a lack of knowledge nor intent are defenses to a claim of copyright infringement and that these factors should only be considered in determining statuary damages and awarding attorney fees. The court went on to award treble damages in accordance with the Lanham Trademark Act; under this act federal courts are expected, not merely authorized, to render the judgment for three times such profits or damages, whichever is greater, together with reasonable attorney fees. This resulted in a judgment for Microsoft in the amount of $3,889,565 .

In 1980, the U.S. Copyright Law was amended to include computer programs. Currently, Title 17 of the United States Code makes it illegal for any individual or business to make or distribute copies of copyrighted material without prior consent from the individual or business that has the copyright . In 1992, Congress passed a law amending Title 18 of the United States Code to include criminal penalties for copyright infringements of software . If a software pirate is brought to trial and found guilty under the criminal law system, he/she...