Information Technology Services
Information Technology Services

Software Piracy

What is Software Piracy?

Software piracy is the illegal copying, distribution and possession of copyrighted software without license or permission of the owner of the authorized source. In 1988, the Canadian Parliament amended the Canadian Copyright Act to expressly include computer software programs in the definition of literary work, thereby clearly confirming that software is entitled to copyright protection. The Canadian Copyright Act prohibits making unauthorized copies of software programs without the consent of the copyright owner. The Act also makes it an offence to knowingly produce, distribute, rent, or import for sale infringing copies of computer software.

The Canadian Copyright Act can be found here.

How do I know if I have pirated software?

Ask yourself some questions:

  • Do I have the license agreement for this product?
  • Do I have the original floppy disks/CD with my software package?
  • Did I get the Certificate of Authenticity with any Windows operating system?

What type of material is usually pirated?

  • audio and video files and movies using software like BitTorrent
  • using software methods for illegally copying or using software like Crakz & Warez
  • evaluation copies used indefinitely
  • buying software with other people (sharing license without permission)

Get legal software (free or inexpensive) from Queen's:

Queen's purchases site licenses for numerous software packages to facilitate their use by students, faculty, and staff. Many valuable pieces of software are distributed, at no extra cost to the user, through the Software Centre located in MyQueen'

So what if I have pirated software...what's the big deal?

  • You are violating the Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources Policy.
  • You are legally liable, especially if you travel with that software to other countries like the USA where you may be prosecuted.
  • You have no access to technical support.
  • You have no warranty if things should go wrong.
  • You may have an incomplete or damaged version of the software.
  • You increase your chances of getting viruses and Trojans with pirated software, one of the big risks we find on campus.
  • You will not receive upgrades or upgrade information for that piece of software.
  • You do not have the documentation that comes with legitimate copies of the software.
  • ITS at Queen's will not help you repair, re-install, or recover from problems with pirated software.

Individuals are not immune from getting punished for pirated software in the same manner as corporations and organizations. In fact, groups and individuals have been charged with violations of copyright laws.

Excerpt from Queen's University Computer User Code of Ethics:

Users must respect all copyrights and licenses associated with university computing facilities. Terms and conditions in software licenses can vary considerably. The onus is on users/owners to familiarize themselves with their responsibilities and limitations under each software license agreement. Users must not attempt to:

  1. Access and use software belonging to or licensed to other users or to Queen's University without proper authorization to do so.
  2. Move or copy programs, subroutines and any other forms of software from one computing system to another without proper authorization. This includes personal computer, microcomputer and personal workstation software.
  3. Distribute, sell or otherwise make available software when such activity is prohibited by the license agreement for that software.
  4. Access data or information stored on personal or University-owned computers without the permission of the owner or custodian of that information.


Please contact the Information Security Office.

Last Updated: January 11, 2018