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To set this article up, let’s say you need the Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection software. You check with and you are shocked about how much it will cost you. So you check with some other reliable retailers. You find that it has an average retail price of $2499.

Wow, that piece of software is way too expensive. How in the world can you afford it?

The “How can you afford it?” question is how criminals are able to succeed with their variation of the OEM Software scam. These criminals prey on the consumer by aiming their advertisements at your pocket book.

If you have had an email account for any amount of time, you’ve seen email spam for…

  • “Cheap OEM Software”
  • “50% – 90% off retail on Software”
  • “Software Surplus”

…and the like. You click on the link in the email and you see prices so low, you can’t believe it. You also see that you can buy now and download the software after the transaction has completed, so that you don’t have to wait on shipping. Some sites even prey on people who promote going “GREEN” by stating their software is only available as a download, in an effort to prevent wasted paper, cardboard and plastic used for packaging and advertisements.

One such email I received recently was a company called OEM Soft Sales Ltd. (DBA: SoftSales, Software Business & Business Software). They are so open about how cheap their software is, they put the retail cost right next to their cost. See the comparisons for Adobe software here.

DON’T FALL FOR IT! This is just another form of Software Piracy!

Notice how the customer service telephone number starts with a country code of +44? If you look here, you will see that this country code is for the United Kingdom, Isle of Man. This business isn’t even in the US.

As a matter of fact, most OEM and/or Cheap Software Scams are run outside of the US. This is because the US has the strictest copyright, patent, and trademark protection and enforcement. Other countries don’t care as much, if at all. In the case of software, some countries have an entirely different set of laws. This is another instance of people from other countries preying on US Citizens because we have the right to make our own decisions and have more disposable income than people in most other countries (In this case we are wanting to save some of our disposable income by spending less on the software we need.).

Adobe, Microsoft and other companies spend millions of dollars each year trying to combat Pirated Software. Software Piracy cuts into the company profits and aids in the prices of software continuing to rise.

Adobe Logo
Microsoft Corporate Logo Reversed

Software manufacturers want to know about any instance of their software being pirated. If you know of a company or individual using software illegally or selling it illegally. You can go to…

…to read and report it.

So, how do you protect yourself from purchasing illegal software?

  1. Be educated about the issue. OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) Software is software which accompanies a computer system or hardware component. OEM software is often cheaper than the full versions but not as cheap as academic or student editions. True OEM Software is only purchased with computer hardware, and is only licensed to be used on that hardware.
  2. Always buy software from a reputable retailer (I.E. Dell, Staples, Best Buy or etc.). While most retailers will have the exact same price on the same software, there can be a little variance. You may find software a couple dollars cheaper at one store or another, but we are talking a price which is not more than 10% – 15% less than other retailers. You aren’t going to find the FULL, PC Version of Adobe Creative Suite 4 Master Collection at one store for $2499 and another store for $1500. You will not find this software for anything less than $2249 and it be LEGAL, NEW, FULL, PC Version.
  3. BE WARE OF EBAY! Though eBay is a very good way to acquire many items for much less than their real value, and eBay has very strict piracy regulations, it is still possible to buy illegal software. (See the post for Wednesday, May 20th, 2009 for ways to protect yourself on eBay.)

    Some manufactures only allow their software to be licensed by the initial person who installs/registers it. In this instance, if you buy software and it has been installed/registered already, it is illegal. Other manufacturers allow you to transfer ownership, but the initial owner/registered user has to fill out a form (usually online) changing ownership to the buyer. So if the initial owner doesn’t fill out this form, you have illegal software.

    FYI: Always be skeptical and extremely cautious of any seller who says…

    • their software doesn’t come in original box,
    • doesn’t have original CDs/DVDs,
    • is a backup copy,
    • is a download,
    • is license only,
    • is educational or academic version,
    • was previously used/installed/registered,
    • is several years old,
    • or etc.

    as that software may also be illegal. It is okay to verify the information, though. It could be a good deal, but you need to perform your own due diligence to make sure! Ask questions of the seller, and let them know that if you suspect the software to be illegal in any form, you will report it to eBay and the manufacturer. Find out from the manufacturer of the software what their conditions are for buying used software. Do all this before making a single bid on eBay.

  4. Always buy software with a credit card or PayPal. This way, if you suspect the software as being a pirated copy or illegal in any way, you can decline the charges. This will help protect your investment.
  5. Don’t get confused. Academic or Educational Versions are intended for those who are students of or teach in an education environment. These versions are legally offered at greatly reduced prices so that teachers, parents of kids, or the kids themselves, don’t have to pay full retail for software needed for school use. These versions are not for personal or business use in any fashion. If Academic or Educational Versions are used for personal or business use, it is being used illegally. This is not the same as Pirated Software, but just as illegal.