Monday, 10 October 2011

Tracking Cyber Crime: Software Sellers (Fake OEM)

One of the most common types of spam messages hitting inboxes are those offering software at absurdly low prices.
In many cases the advertised price is only a fraction of the normal retail price of the software.

The spam messages normally include a link to a website where visitors can order, not only the specific software advertised, but, a sizable range of other software products as well.
These sites are often quite professional in appearance and, at first glance, they may seem to be legitimate online shops selling legal products.

However, in reality, such sites are likely to be selling pirated copies of the advertised software or illegal Other Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) versions.
OEM software can usually only be legally sold when it is bundled with a particular hardware package.
For example, when a consumer purchases a new computer, some OEM software may come pre-installed and on accompanying computer disks.
Usually, this OEM software does not ship with the original packaging or hard-copy manual and includes warnings such as "For distribution with a new PC only".
An Anti-Piracy FAQ on the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) website notes:

Is it legal to install an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) version of software on a computer other than the one on which the software came?

OEM software is only distributed when sold with specified accompanying hardware.
When these programs are copied and/or sold separately from the hardware, it is a violation of the license with the software publisher, and therefore illegal.

Moreover, these bogus websites often claim that a product is an OEM version when it is quite unlikely that it was ever really distributed under an OEM license.
Instead, the product is likely to be an illegal pirated copy.
Source: Hoax-Slayer

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