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jerubedo

The Use of Windows 10 Without Ever Planning To Activate It On Your New Build Is Considered Piracy

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Posted · Original PosterOP

So I do hate to have to make this post, but I've seen countless people in this particular sub-forum recommend just running Windows 10 without getting a genuine key and activating in order to cut costs of the build. Unfortunately this is considered piracy. That may come across as surprising to a lot of you, and some of you might be ready to fight me on that with, "Microsoft is letting you do it, so it's not piracy." To those people I say please read on first, and after reading everything if you still have a concern feel free to follow up.

 

This is a topic near and dear to me as a senior programmer of many years. It is my job to know the ins and outs of everything software development from coding to distribution, both of which involve understanding piracy. For coding, it's, "How do we code to mitigate piracy? Do we use DRM? Do we do something else?" For distribution it's knowing local and global copyright laws and, "How do I distribute my software in a way that will promote as little piracy as possible." 

 

First, the definition of piracy, as a baseline, from the two major dictionaries (Webster and Oxford):

 

Webster: "The unauthorized use of another's production, invention, or conception especially in infringement of a copyright." (source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/piracy)

 

Oxford: "The unauthorized use or reproduction of another's work." (source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/piracy)

 

So both of those basically boil down to: "The unauthorized use or reproduction of a copyrighted work."

 

Now, Windows 10 has an EULA (End User Licensing Agreement, basically a terms of service), which specifies what counts as authorized use. The following is a direct quote from the EULA: 

 

"By accepting this agreement or using the software, you agree to all of these terms

5.      Authorized Software and Activation. You are authorized to use this software only if you are properly licensed and the software has been properly activated with a genuine product key or by other authorized method." (source: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/Useterms/Retail/Windows/10/UseTerms_Retail_Windows_10_English.htm)

 

Finally, Windows 10 is indeed copyrighted.

 

Now, putting this all together, running Windows 10 inactivated is unauthorized by Microsoft's own policy, and you've agreed to the terms since you are using the software (and you agreed to them when you installed as well), and is therefore piracy by definition since you are using a copyrighted work in an unauthorized fashion. 

 

Some of you might say, "Wait, by this definition, isn't ANY breech in the EULA considered piracy since that constitutes unauthorized use?" No. The thing is once you've paid for a license you are actually protected by consumer rights (which varies from country to country, and even state to state in the case of the USA). A large portion of many EULAs are actually unenforceable in many countries. The one thing that is universally enforceable, though, is for a company (in this case Microsoft) to require that a license be used in order to use their software (i.e. The end user to pay for it!).

 

Another piece of critical information is that the official legal term for piracy is "criminal copyright infringement." Here's a few references (with sources of course):

 

from Wikipedia: "Software piracy (officially called copyright infringement of software) refers to..." (source: https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_piracy)

 

From Cornell.edu: "Software Piracy is an act of copyright infringement, and is subject to civil and criminal penalties" (source: https://it.cornell.edu/copyright-infringement-software)

 

From Rain Minns Lawfirm: "The government has recently dramatically increased its efforts to prosecute what it labels as software piracy, which is considered a type of criminal copyright infringement.  The most common primary charge for this is 17 U.S.C. § 506." (source: https://www.rainminnslaw.com/software_piracy.html)

 

Also from Rain Minns Lawfirm:

"Criminal Copyright Infringement (Software Piracy)

Criminal copyright infringement is outlined in 17 U.S.C. § 506.  It states: “Any person who willfully infringes a copyright shall be punished as provided under section 2319 of title 18.”    Depending upon which provision the government elects for its prosecution (or persecution!), below are  generally the initial factors that the government must prove for all copyright infringement convictions:

  • There is a valid copyright.
  • There was an infringement of that copyright.
  • The infringement was willful. 
  • The infringing items were not “first sales.”  (Note: Some courts do not require this fourth item.)" (same source)

 

Now, you may ask, "Well, then why is Microsoft allowing users to just use the OS perpetually without any consequences except for the watermark and the inability to customize some parts of the desktop?"

 

That is indeed a good question: the answer is actually piracy mitigation. It's a technique that has been proven to work. WinRAR is pretty famous for doing this. The premise is that you tell people that they need to buy a valid license, but you don't stop them from using the application in its full glory. This gets consumers away from the mindset of, "Oh they are a bunch of greedy a-holes that just want to take our hard earned money. It's highway robbery!" It brings them to the mindset of, "Oh hey, these guys aren't so bad." This brings them a good reputation, and news that the software is pretty good spreads via word of mouth. A lot of people feel more inclined to pay under this kind of a setup, and for those who don't they are still potentially spreading news about the software by word of mouth, which puts the software in the hands of even more users (and more potential paying customers). Getting Windows 10 out to as many users as possible is a big goal of Microsoft right now as well, which is another reason for this strategy. They want Windows 10 to have the biggest possible market share (they want to get people off of Windows 7, 8, and even Xp). The rumored reason for this is so that Microsoft can then have targeted paid features which will be advertised to the largest possible audience if they have a huge market share.

 

A follow-up question is "Why does the Windows 10 installer have the option to install without a product key? The verbiage they use is 'I don't have a product key.'"

 

Another good question. "I don't have a product key" doesn't mean, "I don't have one and never will." It just means, "I don't have one right now." That option is there for convenience and to be user friendly. It could be the case that you don't have the key handy. Maybe it's sitting in an email and you need to install the OS first to get into that email to get a key. Maybe you ordered a physical copy of Windows 10 and it's coming in the mail so you don't have it yet. That option is for one of serval hundred circumstances. In this case they give you a nice grace period of 30 days, after which the watermark shows up and you're in piracy territory. If it's just the case that you went over that 30 days because you forgot to plug your key in, it's fine, just do it now. The real issue comes into play when you have no intentions of ever actually activating. Now you're in full blown piracy territory.

 

Another comment I hear a lot is: "Well, if Microsoft is making it that easy to steal their OS then it just doesn't feel like piracy." Well, feel like it or not, it is. That comment is kind of like saying, "Because a store doesn't have a security system or guard at the exit, it's okay to steal products off their shelves because they are making it so easy."

 

Now, I'm not saying that pirating Windows 10 is the end of the world. If you're doing it, likely no one is going to break down your door and arrest you. Microsoft isn't sending out armies of lawyers to go after individuals. But by the same token, this is a reputatble tech forum where a lot of people come for advice about what to build. To be telling them to essentially pirate software to save a few bucks is not a good thing, especially when they might not have even thought about doing so before hearing from these forums. Of course this too is also a part of their piracy mitigation technique.

 

Just in case I haven't linked enough things yet here's one more bonus thing:

 

Linus recently did a video a video about "Why he pirates Windows 10." So even he calls it piracy. Linus is an expert in the tech field (some of you may argue that) and his words have weight. He also asks in the video description about whether or not he could be sued by Microsoft for this piracy. Note, however that Linus' case is special. He DOES have product keys that he's purchased and is just running into the activation issue because of swapping hardware too often. This is a MUCH more gray area and at the very least it is morally defendable.

 

 

 

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Not sure whats the point of this post to be honest. Unless you are selling machines and computers with Windows Branding and such they pretty much wont go after people using it or buying the keys off websites. 

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Posted · Original PosterOP
6 minutes ago, Shimejii said:

Not sure whats the point of this post to be honest. Unless you are selling machines and computers with Windows Branding and such they pretty much wont go after people using it or buying the keys off websites. 

Yep, I did cover this in my post:

 

44 minutes ago, jerubedo said:

Now, I'm not saying that pirating Windows 10 is the end of the world. If you're doing it, likely no one is going to break down your door and arrest you. Microsoft isn't sending out armies of lawyers to go after individuals.

 

The point was this:

 

44 minutes ago, jerubedo said:

this is a reputable tech forum where a lot of people come for advice about what to build. To be telling them to essentially pirate software to save a few bucks is not a good thing, especially when they might not have even thought about doing so before hearing from these forums

 

Also, just because they won't go after you doesn't mean that you should do it. But again, I'm not being the guy that angrily points the finger and says, "YOU THERE! STOP PIRATING!" I'm just trying to say that on a reputable tech forum we should not promote piracy, that's all. People can do what they want, but when they come here we shouldn't be whispering in their ear essentially, "Come to the dark side. Pirate Windows. We have cookies."

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On the post which I'm pretty sure originated this post I said something along the lines of it's similar to WinRAR, I think you misunderstood me because you replied saying it is piracy, I never said it wasn't piracy I was just saying it could be endorsed on a reputable forum because they know about it and it's part of their business strategy

 

P.S I'm not posting this on that post because I don't want to bother the poster of that

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Posted · Original PosterOP
12 minutes ago, A Lini said:

On the post which I'm pretty sure originated this post I said something along the lines of it's similar to WinRAR, I think you misunderstood me because you replied saying it is piracy, I never said it wasn't piracy I was just saying it could be endorsed on a reputable forum because they know about it and it's part of their business strategy

 

P.S I'm not posting this on that post because I don't want to bother the poster of that

Nah it wasn't that thread. It was like 5 other different threads I found after it, haha. But anyway, yes endorsing it is great, but saying, "Go ahead and download this and never pay for it, just use it for free forever" is a different story.

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