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Pirates cost software industry $12 billion worldwide annually

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While many automotive repair shop owners know that copying and/or distributing copyrighted software illegally is considered piracy, what they may not be aware of is that even possession of software that has been illegally copied is piracy.

To protect its customers and product integrity, ALLDATA LLC is aggressively pursuing civil and criminal action against all software pirates. "ALLDATA has a zero tolerance policy on software piracy," says Susan Slish, product security program manager.

Recently, two individuals from Business Computer Solutions in Long Beach, Calif., were charged with copyright infringement. They were sentenced to five years' felony probation, restitution (to be paid to ALLDATA over a five-year period) and 60 days of community service.

According to the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), the software industry annually loses about $12 billion worldwide from piracy -- $2 billion in North America alone.

To combat this problem, federal agencies such as the United States Copyright Office, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Senate Judiciary Committee and the U.S. Department of Justice maintain software piracy divisions. Their sole purpose is to track down and prosecute software pirates and cyber criminals, including those who use unlicensed software, either ignorantly or deliberately.

According to ALLDATA, those who use pirated software:

* increase the chances that the software will not function correctly or will fail completely;

* forfeit access to customer support, upgrades, technical documentation, training and bug fixes;

* have no warranty protection;

* increase their risk of exposure to a debilitating virus that can destroy valuable data;

* may find that the software is actually an outdated version, a beta (test) version, or a nonfunctioning copy;

* are subject to significant fines for copyright infringement; and

* risk potential negative publicity resulting in loss of business.

"If the price of the software is too good to be true, the chances are it is illegal or unlicensed," says ALLDATA. In addition, pirated software packaging can look very similar to the genuine product.

The company asks that to be certain you are receiving authentic ALLDATA products, "buy only from an authorized ALLDATA representative."

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