If you are arrested for unlawful duplication of software, known as software piracy, a determined federal prosecutor will work hard to build a strong case against you. You will need a strong and knowledgeable defense.

Federal Copyright Law

United State copyright law clearly spells out that the holder of a copyright has the exclusive right to make and distribute copies of their products. You are violating federal law if you create, sell or give away duplicates of copyrighted material without authorization.

Software is a type of intellectual property, and the same copyright rules that govern books and movies apply. And it doesn’t matter if the software is something you picked up in the sale bin either. It is as much a crime to copy an expensive office management package as it is a $10 game.

An exception: if you buy software and the manufacturer does not provide a backup copy, you do have the right to make your own backup.

Software Piracy

Unlawful duplication of software covers situations like these:

  • Softloading – often occurs in businesses, purchasing a single software program and making extra copies for people to load on their computers and/or take home.
  • Counterfeiting – creating and/or selling forged software made to look like it’s genuine.
  • Internet downloading — downloading copyrighted software from the Internet without the copyright holder’s permission.
  • Renting – renting out software without the copyright holder’s permission
  • Unbundling — selling part of a software package


Software developers devote time and resources to each project, and they are vigilant about protecting their rights. BSA, an alliance of software publishing companies, investigates thousands of piracy cases each year.

If you unlawfully duplicate software, the copyright holder can sue you in a civil court. You can also face federal charges.

If you are convicted of violating federal copyright laws and illegally copying software, you can be jailed for up to five years and fined as much as $100,000.

How A Lawyer Will Help

When you are up against a federal computer crime charge, you will be facing inflexible laws and a determined US prosecutor. You will need an attorney who can help you determine all of your options and achieve the best outcome for your circumstances.

United States Code

Read more about federal criminal offenses in the United States Code.

Questions? Contact us today.

If you are charged with a federal crime, the consequences can be devastating. Fienman Defense will fight tenaciously to protect your constitutional rights. We will guide you through a court system that can be complex and intimidating, and provide you with the strongest possible defense.