NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, September 2004
Can you really buy popular “software at rock bottom prices” online?
by Linda Gonse, Editor of Nibbles & Bits, Orange County IBM PC Users’ Group, California

Probably you, and millions of others, have received e-mail offers with subject lines similar to these:

    Unbeatable software deals
    Amazing prices on software
    Take 95% discounts on Adobe, Microsoft, Corel products from Putnam’s Stuff Store
    Receive discount ticket on Corel, Adobe, Microsoft software from Koenig’s Stuff Store
    Get software at rock bottom prices

What’s more you may have seriously considered purchasing the programs described in the e-mails at prices that you’ve only seen in your dreams. Here’s an example in one message:

    Looking for inexpensive high-quality software?
    We might have just what you need.
    Windows XP Professional 2002 $50
    Adobe Photoshop 7.9 $60
    Microsoft Office XP Professional 2002 $60
    Corel Draw Graphics Suite 11 $60

These amazing prices are not legitimate. They represent the work of software pirates who are trolling for customers, or illegal sales. Do not take the offers at face value. Stop and ask yourself how it is possible for programs that sell for hundred of dollars to be discounted for a fraction of their usual retail cost. Certainly, these products are not even selling at wholesale, much less for these unbelievable prices. And, if the companies did offer programs at these prices, you would be reading about it in your newspaper, or hearing about it on television or radio, or in your user group.

A Washington Post article said, “The U.S. software industry loses at least $13 billion a year to piracy, according to the Business Software Alliance (BSA) estimates. The group, which represents some of the world’s largest software companies, including Microsoft, Adobe and Autodesk, does not know how much money the industry has lost to online piracy.”

Still, user confusion about piracy prevails. Microsoft, attempting to educate software buyers, has posted a document that points out warning signs of counterfeit or illegal software. (Unfortunately, most of the warning signs apply to software already purchased.)

Microsoft’s warning signs of counterfeit or illegal software: