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Software Buying Guides: How to Buy Legal Software on an Auction Site

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Here are some pointers to help you buy only legal software on an auction site:


  • Before purchasing software on an auction site learn about the software you wish to purchase by visiting the software publishers site. Familiarize yourself with the product and how the product is normally sold, including the pricing, so that you can more easily recognize when a seller is attempting to sell you illegal software. Obviously, when someone is trying to sell you $500 software for $20, the software is likely to be illegal.


  • Don't buy software from a seller who has just appeared and started selling massive amounts of the same piece or set of software products.


  • Don't buy software from a seller who has placed numerous auctions for the exact same piece of software.


  • Don't buy software being offered from another region of the world. In addition to the potential for piracy, you may be purchasing software that will be incompatible with your computer or may be unlicensed for distribution in the US.


  • Don't buy software from a seller outside of the auction.


  • Don't buy software from an auction lasting one day or three days. Most auctions last from five to seven days. Auctions for less than that are often posted by those selling illegal software who are trying to make a quick sale before the copyright owner takes down their auction.


  • Don't buy software identified as "OEM" that is not bundled with authorized hardware.


  • Don't buy software that is being sold as a "back-up copy".


  • Don't buy software that is being offered as "brand new CD in sleeve" or does not come in the manufacturer's original box or with the original packaging or documentation.


  • Don't buy "beta," pre-release or NFR ("not for resale") versions of software


  • Don't buy an upgrade version of software if you do not own a licensed copy of the underlying version of that software.


  • Don't buy software from a seller who does not allow you to use Paypal to pay for the software.


  • Don't buy compilations of software (multiple products from different publishers on the same CD). Legal software is rarely, if ever, sold that way.


  • Don't buy academic versions of software that do not include the eligibility requirements or if you do not meet the eligibility requirements.


  • Don't buy software from a seller who provides a special number or procedure for activating or registering your software before you can use it.


  • Don't buy software that is being advertised as a "full version" but the auction states that you will only receive CDs.


  • Don't buy the software if the seller states that the software can't be registered.


  • Don't be fooled by the term "Power Seller" or a high rating. Check their user comments-do they have any neutral/negative feedback from buyers claiming fraud by the seller? However, don't solely rely on this information, as copyright owners are not permitted to provide feedback even when a seller has his auction taken down because it is illegal.


What should you do if you come across an seller that you suspect of selling illegal software? Report them to SIIA at

report software piracy

report content piracy