Software Piracy: Navigating the Digital Seas of Copyright Infringement

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As stated by (Asongu, 2014) software piracy is the installation and use of software without permission from the developers of such software. Many software companies have websites for selling their software online. A typical software company uploads their software in their sites available for downloads, with the restriction that such software will not work until one pays for a license key. But with the advent of high-level computer skills and technologies, reverse-engineering has come in to play.

Some companies are doing business on the back door of the companies developing licensed software products. Say IBM Company is well known for the development of robust, scalable statistical software like SPSS, and R-Studio. IBM Company may dictate that their software is not open source and the prerequisite is the payment for the license key. On the other hand, companies like KMS have utilized the power of reverse engineering to the development of reverse engineering software (cracking software) that is used in bypassing license key during the installation process of software that needs installation key. In this discussion, I choose to use Reynolds Seven – Step Approach comprising the statement of the problem, checking the facts, identifying relevant factors, developing a list of options, testing the possibilities, making a choice, and evaluation of the result (Edwards, Boles, & Baurle, 2012)

Step 1: Statement of the problem  

The use of Companies’ software without paying for license fee is a problem. Software development companies have faced a severe problem of merchandising their software and software-related products in online platforms. The companies are earning little revenue in spite of other companies, and individuals commercially use their software products more so students. People have not been paying for the due license to the developers but have resorted to software engineering.

Step 2: Checking the facts

According to (Andrés & Asongu, 2013) software piracy has been manifested in an institution of higher learning, typically in universities where the knowledge of computer application and programming has to deepen its roots. University students taking computer science and computer engineering are being thought software engineering that gives them thoughtful lessons in reverse engineering. Students in these courses have put their knowledge into practical aspect by cracking software that requires installation key (license/product key), masking them to use the software without paying for the fee. A close look at this is the installation of Ms. Windows’s operating systems such a windows ten that requires a license key has been successful without necessarily purchasing the key.

Step 3: identifying the relevant factors

The prominent IT – ethical issue (software piracy) has been accelerated by two main factors (Chai, Liu, & Ngai, 2013).  The first one is online marketing that has exposed the Companies' software to the hands of many unauthorized people.  As stated earlier, software development companies upload their products on their website, ready to be downloaded. The second factor and the more powerful one is reverse engineering

Step 4: Development of the list of option

To revert the menace of software piracy the software development Companies should develop alternative means of selling their products (Wallenius, Dyer, Fishburn, Steuer, Zionts, & Deb, 2008). They should stop uploading the products on the web, but use their websites for advertisement only. The following could be viable options to be considered as the alternative form of merchandising software products.

To package their products in discs, preferably CDs or any other storage medium

and sell them as an item.

The company should set salespeople to merchandise their products and install by themselves on behave of customers to avoid the product falling into the hands of unauthorized people.

Step 5: Test the options

The software company should conduct the test of the above options by applying some of the following aspects of the tests.

Harm test. The company should try running the two options separately to see if they will inconvenience the sale of the products and the salespeople. The choice that will adversely affect the purchase of the product will be noted and rejected.

Publicity test. The company should try implementing the two options to determine which one will popularise the product. This is important because when many people know the product, it will attract potential sale and thus fetches high revenue for the company.

Step 6: Choose from the list of options

Basing on the number of the test conducted for a particular choice, the possibility that will maintain or increase the sales level of the software product will be adopted, and the others rejected. If this were to be done practically, I would consider choosing the first option (i.e., packaging the software in the storage medium) for sale. This is important because when one needs a software s/he will have to pay before getting it and this will reduce the process of reverse engineering on that particular software and thus positively impacts the organization.

Step 7: Evaluation of the result

The software companies should evaluate utilization of the above-selected option in counteracting software piracy. The chosen option is to take the company to the desired position or higher and stands out as the best alternative. Evaluation of results of the selected option yielded that a more significant percentage will reduce the software piracy if it is adopted.

We consider the stakeholders' theory of Normative Theories of Business Ethics to apply in this analysis process. It states that because the stakeholders have invested heavily in their business, any decision taken by the company should benefit them (Laplume, Sonpar, & Litz, 2008).  This theory is applicable because stakeholders of software development companies have invested a lot in it, and therefore there should be a plane that makes them enjoy their profit by reducing software piracy.   


Andrés, A. R., & Asongu, S. A. (2013). Fighting software piracy: which governance tools matter in Africa? Journal of Business Ethics, 118(3), 667-682.

Asongu, S. A. (2014). Software piracy and scientific publications: knowledge economy evidence from Africa. African Development Review, 26(4), 572-583.

Chai, J., Liu, J. N., & Ngai, E. W. (2013). Application of decision-making techniques in supplier selection: A systematic review of the literature. Expert Systems with Applications, 40(10), 3872-3885.

Edwards, J. R., Boles, J. A., & Baurle, R. A. (2012). Large-eddy/Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes simulation of a supersonic reacting wall jet. Combustion and Flame, 159(3), 1127-1138.

Laplume, A. O., Sonpar, K., & Litz, R. A. (2008). Stakeholder theory: Reviewing a theory that moves us. Journal of management, 34(6), 1152-1189.

Wallenius, J., Dyer, J. S., Fishburn, P. C., Steuer, R. E., Zionts, S., & Deb, K. (2008). Multiple criteria decision making, multiattribute utility theory: Recent accomplishments and what lies ahead. Management Science, 54(7), 1336-1349.

September 04, 2023

Business Economics

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