Symantec preparing to squash more pirates

Symantec is thought to be investigating and preparing legal action against suspected software pirates in Australia; the news comes just days after the company launched a US$15 million lawsuit against eight companies in the US.Symantec, along with most other large software firms, is in a constant battle against the unauthorised usage, copying and distribution of its products.

Symantec is thought to be investigating and preparing legal action against suspected software pirates in Australia; the news comes just days after the company launched a US$15 million lawsuit against eight companies in the US.

Symantec, along with most other large software firms, is in a constant battle against the unauthorised usage, copying and distribution of its products. The company argues that piracy is theft and can have "severe repercussions on the economy" as well as dampen innovation.

Pirated software and packages that have been licensed only for use with new hardware -- Original Equipment Manufacturer or OEM -- are openly sold on auction sites such as eBay.

Vitor Oy, Symantec's senior manager for brand protection and corporate security in APAC and Japan, told ZDNet Australia that eBay is often used to illegally dispose of OEM versions of its products.

"We have seen both legal and illegal Symantec products for sale on eBay, more commonly available are the OEM's software and the parallel imports.

"It is unfortunate that there are some unscrupulous sellers who take advantage of the popularity and convenience provided by online auction sites to hawk illegal software to unsuspecting buyers. Therefore it is very important that consumers understand and are aware of what they are paying for," said Oy.

According to Symantec, illegally purchased OEM software "will not enjoy the same guarantee and support", while software distributed via spam and other unconventional means could be "destructive to a computer's operating system".

"Symantec also warns individuals and enterprises to be aware of the dangers associated with purchasing software via suspicious spammed e-mail," said Oy. "The software could come with viruses or bugs that can be destructive to a computer's operating system. In addition, many times the spammed e-mail offers are simply a scam to acquire credit card numbers and unsuspecting customers receive no product at all."

Oy refused to comment on current investigations but warned that Symantec takes the matter seriously.

"We're not at liberty to disclose any specific details about any legal activity and risk any possible ongoing investigations ... Strong police action and/or legal action will be considered when appropriate," said Oy.

Last month, Symantec's Australia and New Zealand vice president David Sykes revealed that the copy protection on Norton Antivirus 2007 was broken just four days after the product was launched.

At the time, Sykes said that the piracy problem will be reduced as software firms move towards an online delivery model.

In November, Microsoft revealed it receives around 500 calls per month to its Australian anti-piracy hotline (1800 639 963).