Quality Control and Data Integrity
Licensed copies of copyrighted work often go through stringent testing to ensure that the data is complete, undamaged and virus-free. The same cannot be said for the CD-ROM in a flimsy plastic cover sold at a roadside stall; the CD might be blank, data within might well be corrupt, or even worse, infected with a virus.
The proliferation of file distribution networks, often used for the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted works, along with a lack of file authentication, has accelerated the spread of malware, such as viruses and trojans. A case to note would be that of an incident in May 2004, when an 108-kilobyte file appeared over LimeWire, a peer-to-peer network, with an icon appearing to be that for the installer for Microsoft Word 2004. Users who downloaded the file had their Home folder wiped out; this is not an isolated incident, but rather a common phenomenon amongst users of peer-to-peer file distribution networks.
There are rare occasions, however, that using licensed copies of copyrighted work might in fact result in damage to one’s computer. This was the case in 2005, when selected titles of Sony BMG original music CDs, with the aim of preventing unauthorized duplication of copyrighted music, installed Digital Rights Management (DRM) software along with a rootkit, which exposed users’ computers to possible attacks.Back to top
Lack of support and updates
The fluid nature of information technology means that while unlicensed copies of copyrighted works, particularly software, might be perfect replicates of the original, it does not guarantee the same degree of reliability and stability in the long run.
One clear difference is that of documentation. Unlicensed copies of works often come without proper documentation, which includes help manuals and reference manuals. Without these essential documents, users could potentially be subjected to much inconvenience.
Another major disadvantage is that of technical assistance, along with patches required to update the software as new bugs arise. As unique serial numbers are often issued along with licensed copies of works, companies can differentiate between users of original copies, and those using illegal copies.