Besides the copyright of photographs and the written word that we mentioned in our blog Use Images that you have the Rights to use on your Blog or Website, another form of copyright that you need to stay on the right side of involves protecting your business from software copyright infringement. It is not news that software piracy is a big problem for software vendors. The illegal use of software applications has been going on since the first PC appeared in the hands of consumers. What businesses may find to be news is the negative impact piracy may have on the cost of software and the potential cost to their company.

Buying and installing pirated copies of high-priced applications for a fraction of the market price only benefits the illegal software vendors and costs original software developers billions of dollars each year. When software companies lose millions of dollars on a single software title, these lost revenues also give software developers and publishers fewer resources to devote to research and development of new products. They also have less revenue to justify lowering software licensing prices and are often forced to pass these costs on to their customers through increased prices.

The other more menacing cost to those on your office for rent network is the potential risk of malware and other cyber threats that many pirated copies of software can open your network up to. The same potential exploits that allowed the software to be cracked in the first place, are also the same exploits that hackers will try to use to cause problems for your office space computer users. Protecting an organization’s network from external threats can be hampered by the infiltration of malware installed by employees unknowingly – because they have installed pirated software on their personal computer or laptop and are hooking up to the network at their downtown office space.

As for the legal ramifications, software companies, especially larger ones like Microsoft, Apple and Adobe have joined other software companies like Autodesk, Aveva, Corel, Dell, Intel, Intuit, McAfee, Oracle, Quark, Rosetta Stone and Symantec in a trade group know as The Software Alliance, also known as BSA. This trade group’s principal activity is trying to stop copyright infringement of software produced by its members. Not only does the group go after the those who produce, distribute and sell pirated copies of the Alliance’s member software, but they also, using legal action, go after those who knowingly buy and install the same pirated software.

Most businesses run legitimate copies of software programs, but it is up to the businesses’ IT people to ensure that network users have not installed pirated software on company computers or personal computers that operate on the company’s network. In fact, many businesses have written rules about the use of company resources and have even included rules about what software can and cannot be installed on its computers. You can also set up filters and firewall rules that prevent software downloading, especially through file-sharing sites.

Even office business centres who offer office space for lease or rent have written terms of use that include rules against sharing pirated software over their Internet service. This is not only to protect their network from malware and other internet threats, but also to protect themselves from the groups that monitor the uploading and downloading of illegal software.

With all this talk about what not to do, our next blog will talk about how to find free or inexpensive images and pictures that you can legally use on your website and blog. We’ll also tell you about open-source software alternatives. Many of these free programs do about the same job many popular software programs do, but without the high cost of ownership or the threats associated with pirated software.