By Devin Partida
If you're a K-12 educator, you know how crucial it is to budget appropriately for spending on class supplies, software, and instructional materials.
You likely need to spend money out of your pocket to account for classroom decor, office supplies like pens and pencils, and other things. Those transactions can add up, leaving you feeling overwhelmed when all you're trying to do is create a welcoming learning environment for your students.
While some schools offer some supplies to their teachers or have the funds to issue reimbursements, not every teacher is lucky enough to reap that benefit. It's only natural for you to try and find workarounds, such as downloading useful learning materials from the internet at a low cost. There are some technologies changing education that you simply cannot do without, and educational software is no exception.
You may want to take advantage of these cheap deals, but have you ever thought about the possible consequences of downloading software from an unknown source?
Let's explore what pirated software is, the consequences of downloading it, and how you can identify some of the warning signs to look out for when using cheap software.
What Is Pirated Software?
Any software that has been copied or distributed without authorization is considered pirated software. When you purchase software from an authorized seller, it typically comes with a link to that software that you only receive after the purchase.
This prevents software from being used by more than one individual. A classic example of pirated software is when someone uses a copy of the software purchased from someone online or in-person.
As mentioned above, you usually receive a few things in your software download package. For example, when you purchase Microsoft Office software, here's what is included:
- A Microsoft online account
- A product key
- A Microsoft license
If you download software from an unauthorized source, such as someone selling copies on eBay, you typically only receive the software itself or some of the other features listed above.
So, what's so bad about getting a cheap deal on educational software?
Consequences of Using Pirated Software
While it may seem worthwhile to purchase copies of the software, you may be opening yourself up to a plethora of risks.
First and foremost, using copied, illegitimate software is considered copyright infringement and comes with potential legal repercussions. You could end up having to pay fines depending on the case's circumstances, which could amount to $150,000 per infringement.
Here are some other risks associated with using bad software:
- Software may stop working properly if it's not from an authorized seller
- The product is not able to be updated
- Pirated software puts people out of work
- It leaves you vulnerable to cyberattacks
- No customer support to help you
These risks are perfect reasons to avoid downloading software from an unknown source.
Warning Signs of Bad Software
Now that you know why it's not worth the time or money to purchase fake software, let's describe some of the warning signs that your software is illegitimate.
1. Software Price
Apply the general rule of thumb, "if it's too good to be true, it probably is," when looking at software prices. Most software companies charge a decent amount of money for their products, so if you find extremely cheap software, chances are good it's not legitimate.
2. The Version of Software
Most software manufacturers will only sell the latest version of their software with the most updated features and coverage. Any software that is a year old or older should be considered a red flag in your book. In addition, most software companies will employ a subscription model to make updates regularly for their users so that they can reap the benefits of the latest version of the software.
3. Source of Software
Unless you're purchasing directly from a software company, it's possible that you could be investing in bad software. Be sure to check the licensing information to ensure you've purchased software that will support your teaching endeavors without falling victim to a pirating scam. It's best to download software directly from the manufacturer's website, as you know you're getting it from the company that created the software.
4. Abnormal Behavior
If your software starts to behave abnormally, it could be a case of copyrighted software. Warning signs that your software is acting abnormally are slow loading times, failure to perform functions it's meant to serve, and other security issues on the device you're using. If anything out of the ordinary happens, you may be using illegitimate software.
Keep all of these warning signs in mind the next time you're using software purchased online. The software needed to help you in the classroom plays an important role, and you don't want to use pirated software for educational purposes.
Cheap, Pirated Software Is Dangerous
As an educator, you likely rely on many types of software throughout your school day. It's critical to know what warning signs to look for when using any kind of software, as it could pose threats to your computer's security and cost you more in the long run. Avoid using pirated software, as it's always best to use legitimate software to prevent future issues.
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