Why Using Pirated Software is Riskier Than Ever

Machine shops and manufacturers that use pirated software risk losing much more – both directly and indirectly.


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Even if I wasn’t in the software business, the decision to risk using counterfeit software confounds me. Most people use illegal software to “save money.” Huh? Maybe they don’t have to shell out the full price for each license used in their shop, but they are losing much, much more than license fee costs — both directly and indirectly.

As the use of various manufacturing software programs has grown, so have the companies that develop the software along with their dedicated compliance departments. In our case, in the CAD/CAM sector, we have undertaken a much more concerted and systematic effort in recent years to discover infringers, and we do discover them every single day.

Once identified, we initiate  a potentially costly campaign to convert them to legal users — costly for the infringers, that is. And they will get caught, eventually. Those fees can mount up to $150,000 per license per version of software, plus the legal fees of all parties and any profit that was made using the product. Many infringers don’t realize that part.

Our goal is to resolve it amicably. If that doesn’t happen, then our legal representatives might have to contact their customers to find out how much they paid the infringers so that we have an accurate accounting. That’s not only embarrassing, but those customers will likely become former customers, putting even future revenue at stake. All of that investment in nurturing those relationships is lost — all over a piece of software. 

Just over the last year, infected counterfeit software has increased significantly.

Second, the infringers could be held up for ransom to restore systems. Just over the last year, infected counterfeit software has increased significantly. It can be encrypted with computer malware, ransomware and viruses. Some companies don’t realize that’s where the nefarious contamination began, but it’s a plausible source now.

According to the BSA – The Software Alliance, malware from unlicensed and counterfeit software costs companies nearly $359 billion each year. These episodes can turn a company upside down for weeks, if not months. For manufacturers, there’s also the indirect downtime costs, delivery delays and customer angst to manage. Further, companies have to allocate internal staff to the resolution effort and likely have to hire outside cyber security professionals. Just think, all this cost and chaos just to “save money” on software licenses. Trusting a criminal to provide a clean, pristine, fraudulent copy is simply illogical. 

As with most software developers, our goal is to convert pirates into legal customers and welcome them into the Mastercam global community so they can access its treasure trove of benefits that positively affect profits. Really, software is an investment toward a healthy financial outcome; it gets paid back many times over. The core accessible customer benefits, in our case, are training, software updates, machine tool postprocessors, user forums and local on-site support by certified resellers. Taking advantage of just one of those value-assets can mean significant gains in a shop’s productivity. Imagine what they all do together! 

To the loyal readers of Production Machining, many of you are performing machining operations with CNC Swiss-type lathes. The assurance of using accurate, robust postprocessors is paramount to successfully programming and operating those complex machines. Only customers, not infringers, have access to our Swiss-machine-specific, optimized postprocessors for all of the major brands that can help to reduce or eliminate hand editing, coupled with access to the support personnel behind it.

In light of the skills gap, it’s now of paramount importance to make setup as simple as possible for this sophisticated process, plus the workpieces have become more intricate. Frequently, we see these machines in the field equipped with three turrets, two spindles, loads of live tools and five-axis capability. You know better than anyone the nuances of the technology you use every day. Not having access to valuable and important resources to program the machines and run them efficiently would make a challenging job even harder.

The use of illegal software is a global problem. Certainly, it’s a hindrance for the software developers’ revenue stream. However, the trend is that it’s an even greater detrimental setback for those who are using bootlegged software — the direct financial costs and the indirect costs of security breaches and their relevant liabilities to customers, downtime, lower machine tool utilization and inefficiencies in training and production optimization.

There is no upside to this depressing, negative environment. It is especially sad to miss out on the peace that comes with doing the right thing and having the access to a global community of professionals and practical resources. Ultimately, becoming a legal customer is the only way to both “save money” and make money.

About the Author


Gary Hargreaves is chief legal officer at CNC Software Inc. Visit or call 253-858-6677.