How to Reduce Software Piracy

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Software pirates can affect company profits.
Software pirates can affect company profits. (Image: pirate flag white image by Tomislav from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

If your company sells a software product, you know that software piracy eats into your sales. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to deter those that steal your software. While it is doubtful that you will be able to completely eliminate piracy, you can work toward reducing the number of incidents. Doing so, however, could require constant diligence on your part--it is not something that you can simply "set and forget." You will need to monitor the situation to look for possible pirated copies of your software.

Offer free and paid versions of your software. You can find success by offering different levels of your software program. One level is free and includes basic functionality. Customers must pay to receive an advanced version of the software that includes more bells and whistles.

Reduce the cost of your program. Some people pirate software because they feel that the price point is too high. If you reduce the cost of the program, you could encourage more people to buy it instead of obtaining illegal copies.

Include an activation step. As users install your software, you can include a step that involves activating the software through the Internet or by phone before users actually can use the software. This involves a unique code that you only can get by purchasing the software legally.

Seek out and stop illegal downloads. Some people pirate software through peer-to-peer file sharing. Certain sites allow users to search for the software program, then download a file that allows them to receive bits of the software from many different people. You can send these sites a cease and desist letter, asking them to remove your listing. Some will be more responsive than others. You constantly will have to monitor file sharing sites for this type of activity. Some software programs can help do this automatically.

Take legal action against those who pirate your software. When you catch someone pirating your software, you can take legal action against him. As people see that you actually do take action against pirates, they become less likely to pirate software, as it presents a greater risk of them getting sued.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consider changing your business model. Rather than selling your software program, you could offer it for free and charge users for software support.

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