When you buy a PC you often have the option to have it pre-installed with software. When you receive the PC it will come with the software licenses in paper format confirming that you are the owner of legitimate software. The PC may also have a security sticker on the outside declaring the legitimate nature of the installed software.
If you buy a PC with pre-installed software and these licenses are missing then it could be that the software has been pirated and is illegal. If you buy second hand PCs make very sure that you have rights to use any installed software – some software manufacturers will not allow licenses to be transferred like this.
Some manufacturers will sell software cheaper to students and academics to encourage them to use it. This software will be marked as academic or student use only. If you are sold this software then using it for a small business is a breach of the licence agreement and you could be liable. Make sure any software you buy is designed for business use.
Grey market software
This refers to software that is meant for sale outside of the EU and Switzerland. It is often sold at a cheaper price once it has been imported. Use of this software is illegal.
Spotting fake software
There are a number of indicators that software may be illegal:
The software is not in English.
The printing on the packaging is poor.
There is a product key printed on the DVC/CD.
Manufacturer’s certificate of authenticity not present (if applicable).
CD hologram is a sticker and not part of the CD itself.
Note that manufacturers apply different types of security devices to their software. If you are in any doubt you can check with the vendor directly.
These web sites may also be of interest:
Microsoft Genuine Software Information
Federation Against Software Theft
Business Software Alliance