Why Report Unlicensed Software?

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of BSA | The Software Alliance. All opinions are 100% mine.

We live in amazing times. We can effortlessly communicate with people around the world in an instant. We can traverse from any point on the globe to another in a matter of hours rather than the months or years it once took. We have access to endless media like movies, music, books, games, software — you name it — without having to clutter precious shelf space better used for, say, a massive Darth Vader collection!

Everything’s so convenient — even stealing. Because the things we use today are increasingly intangible, a lot of people conveniently forget that they are stealing when they navigate around official channels to download that blockbuster flick, new album by their favorite band, or mind-blowing first-person shooter that’s all the rage, free of charge.

Software of every variety is commonly pirated among otherwise law-abiding companies with barely a careless shrug simply because it doesn’t fit into the traditional notion of thievery. Many misguidedly reason that it’s not possible to steal something that you can’t hold in your hands.

It’s not quite the same as holding a liquor store cashier at gunpoint for the contents of the cash register, after all. It’s a victimless crime, right? What’s the real harm?

Well, the people who invest their time and money into bringing that software to fruition would heartily disagree. They’ve created something that people see value in having — and most would agree that that value should be returned in kind with some form of compensation. Sadly, many do not. Sure, it’s not exactly the same as holding the aforementioned liquor store cashier at gunpoint, but its results aren’t much different in the end: someone’s being robbed.

In fact, the BSA (Business Software Alliance) estimates that “one in five pieces of software in the US are unlicensed.” It started NoPiracy.org as a way to combat this epidemic of unlicensed software and ensure that software creators are fairly compensated.

I don’t know what you do for a living, but I imagine that you don’t make a habit of punching any time clocks (literally or figuratively) for free. If your boss stopped handing out paychecks, you’d stop showing up for work, right? Even if what you do is mostly a labor of love, you’ve still got to put food on the table and make sure the roof above your head stays sturdy. People in the business of creating that intangible but oh-so-desirable software belong to the same economy as the rest of us, with the same needs they hope to meet by putting their talents to use. Uncompensated for those efforts, they run the risk of being hungry and homeless — just like anybody else.

But as convenient as the thievery of such intangible resources has become, you know what’s also convenient, quick, completely confidential, and has the potential for earning you a reward? Reporting that thievery.

Whoah! Hold on a sec! I know what you’re thinking. You think that there’s something somehow honorable about keeping the authorities out of the loop when someone’s transgressed against the laws of the land. Snitches get stitches. Nobody likes a grass. That sort of thing. You can call me a square or a flunky of Big Brother if you like, but I can — in very good conscience — give you five reasons why you might want to reconsider your stance.

It’s the right thing to do.

As we’ve discussed already, there’s not really a grey area, here: you’re either in the right or in the wrong when it comes to how you use software. If the software you’re using is unlicensed, then the creator isn’t getting rewarded for the resources — time, effort, and money — that they put into it.

If you knowingly turn a blind eye to the use of illicitly gained software, then you’re condoning thievery on some level. NoPiracy.org allows you to report unlicensed software use — it’s the right thing to do.

Software doesn’t improve without a proper feedback loop.

Going through the trouble of legitimately using software isn’t just about honoring the license; it’s about making sure the software continues to do what you need it to do and doesn’t ever disappear due to a lack of support.

Oh! Did you expect the software creator to keep putting their time, effort, and money into supporting and updating software that everyone keeps stealing? If you find the absurdity behind such expectations difficult to wrap your brain around, then you need more help than I can offer here!

Reporting unlicensed software is completely confidential.

Okay, okay. I get it. You don’t want to be pointed out as the whistleblower. Maybe you work in an office where the IT department has no scruples when it comes to providing every work station with the latest — but illegally cracked — productivity suite.

In spite of playing the part of the naively unaware, management may have even requested this circumvention of ethics to creatively make way for wiggle room in the company’s budget. If it’s discovered that you’re the cause of legal woes when this turpitude is brought to light, then your livelihood could be jeopardized.

You know… in the same way that the livelihood of software creators is jeopardized when people steal software! But don’t worry — reporting a case to NoPiracy.org is 100% confidential. You don’t have to worry about blowback if you’re doing the right thing and being honest.


Cash rewards are offered by BSA for qualifying reports. This shouldn’t be the primary motivator for reporting unlicensed software — just as the act of returning a lost wallet should be the reward itself. Still, it’s a small way of saying thanks for just doing the right thing.

It’s easy to do.

Convenience is key. Obviously, it would be counterproductive If BSA made it harder to report unlicensed software than it is to steal it! Filing a confidential report is about as easy as ordering a pizza. Don’t believe me? Check out the form here and see for yourself.

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