91 per cent of software auctioned online is pirated

More than nine out of 10 software applications being sold through major online auctions sites such as eBay and Yahoo are counterfeit, according to a new report issued yesterday by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA).

The Washington-based trade association conducted a review of 1300 online software sales on auction sites such as Seattle-based, San Jose-based eBay, Redwood City-based Excite and Santa Clara-based Yahoo. The review was conducted during a four-day period at the end of March and beginning of April.

The SIIA found that 91 per cent of the auctioned software was pirated. Out of the 1300 online software auctions that the SIIA monitored, only 138 contained legitimate software licences. A similar review conducted on some of the same auction sites in August turned up a 60 per cent software piracy rate.

Peter Burek, vice president of antipiracy programs at the SIIA, said auctioneers can dramatically reduce pirated software sales on their sites by being proactive about monitoring auctions. According to the SIIA, Amazon monitors its sales closely and immediately removes illegitimate goods from the site. The SIIA didn't find any illegitimate software auctions on Amazon's website during its review, he said.

SIIA suggests consumers take precautions when buying software from an online auction. First, look for signs that the software isn't for purchase, such as having the terms "not for resale", "backup" or "OEM" emblazoned on the packaging.

Yahoo declined to comment on the SIIA report as the company is facing a lawsuit from the top three video game makers regarding pirated games sold on its auction site.