How can you be sure you’re getting authentic computer software and not some pirated copy? Here are seven tips to help you keep it legal.

1. P2P? Let It Be!
It is illegal to distribute unlicensed copyrighted computer software through a P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing network, and it is illegal to download unlicensed copyrighted computer software from a P2P file sharing network. There are no exceptions and no excuses. Don’t do it.

2. One Per Customer
Most computer software comes with a user’s license that limits installation exclusively to the purchaser’s computer. You are violating that license if you install borrowed software on your computer or let a friend install your software on his computer. And you’re both committing software piracy.

3. Suspect a Bargain
If the price is “too good to be true,” you can bet that you’re looking at a fake. Whether you find it on an auction site or find out about it through unsolicited email, a piece of name-brand computer software at an impossibly low price is almost always an illegal copy.

4. Steer Clear of Spam
About 21 percent of consumers admit that they’ve bought computer software through a spam offer. Most got an illegal copy for their money. Don’t make the same mistake.

5. Ask for I.D.
When you’re shopping for computer software on an auction site, check out the seller before you buy. Look for sellers who give a physical address you can check with the Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBB). Avoid sellers operating out of a post office box or online bank account. They might look legit, but the software they sell is likely to be illegal.

6. Read the Fine Print
You know you’re in for trouble if you see an offer for “OEM” computer software or a compilation disc. OEM stands for “Original Equipment Manufacturer,” and can mean that the software is licensed for distribution only with a new computer. If you install it on your computer, that’s software piracy. And the same goes for compilation discs, which combine software from several manufacturers onto a single CD or DVD. Buy one and you’ve got a bundle of illegal copies.

7. Look at the Label
When you purchase authentic software on disc, the packaging and the disc itself will both have logos, a copyright notice, and other information printed on them. If you’re holding a disc with a stick-on printed label or the program name written in marker, it’s an illegal copy

Fight Back...Report a Pirate!
If you’re the victim of a software pirate, or suspect that computer software offered for sale is an illegal copy, report it. Call the BSA at 1-888-No-PIRACY or visit its website at: www.bsa.org.


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