Despite software industry crackdowns and recent convictions, software piracy, especially hard disk loading, appears to be on the rise.
One Sydney computer reseller said it's not uncommon for an end user to be sold a new computer system complete with Windows 95, without the original disks or documentation.
"One customer showed us a written competitive quote for a PC which included an optional charge of $85 for a Windows 95 disk.
"I can only presume this reflects the reseller's cost, and this is well below the normal wholesale cost of a legitimate Windows 95 OEM pack," he concluded.
ARN spoke to other resellers who were all too aware of the problem of illegally copied software.
Newly appointed general manager of Sydney based Empire Systems Seraj Suttom, said: "We understand it goes on, and we don't think it's worth the risk. We receive training from Microsoft on how to identify genuine software."
Dick Smith Electronics public relations man-ager Rachelle Connor told ARN the company had implemented a no-return policy on software. "We won't exchange on software unless it is faulty. This eliminates 'change of mind' returns and may deter pirates," she said.
Connor added that most piracy occurs with home users or small businesses, and she had heard of situations where big publishers have taken action against small pirates.
Microsoft OEM sales manager David Wrathal said: "Hard disk loading is the classic form of software piracy. We have a number of marketing activities and campaigns to combat this issue and to educate system builders about the benefits of shipping genuine product, as well as advise them of cases where hard disk loaders have been successfully settled."