The Dangers of Using Pirated Software

For architects starting up a small practice or who work as sole practitioners, it may be tempting to minimize expenditures by using pirated architectural software, in particular pirated versions of CAD software such as Revit. Though pirating may seem like a cheap and easy alternative to purchasing licensed software, there are more risks from pirating than many realize.


Guilty parties may be subject to civil penalties, arrest and/or criminal prosecution. Also, ownership of content created using stolen software isn’t the easiest thing to argue in court either. Profits generated from the usage of pirated software can additionally be subject to seizure.

Under the law, companies can be held liable for employees’ action as well. If an associate is caught installing unauthorized software or downloading it off the internet, a lawsuit can be brought against your company for copyright infringement – even if management is unaware of the offence.

On top of the potential sky high legal costs and dips in daily productivity associated with defending such charges, copyright holders may immediately freeze unauthorized usage of their applications as well, potentially shutting down your business until access to legitimate software is resolved. Negative PR about your company could also result from any such proceedings.


Pirated software is unauthorized; its users, unacknowledged. Over the product’s lifespan you will receive no ongoing bug fixes, program updates or if show-stopping problems arise – no technical support. Manuals, training cards and users’ guides are generally missing from pirated programs.


In addition to the legal and financial and on-going support implications, consumers also risk computer security. Unlicensed software can harbour particularly dangerous viruses and malware that can gain access to your information. For example, it might contain spyware that can send your credit card information to a hacker, or you could unknowingly activate your computer as a botnet drone. (Your computer becomes a botnet drone if it gets infected with a remote control software. After infection your computer will be part of an army of computers that will be used for illegal activities). Pirated programs also often cause computer-wide problems, corrupting files and disrupting function. Be particularly wary of pirated security software programs as many are actually decoys that cause the very problems they claim to protect against. The cost of recovering from an incident of malicious software on a single workstation could exceed a thousand dollars. The cost of lost or compromised data could exceed tens of thousands of dollars per incident. Thus, the cost savings of using pirated software could be eradicated with a single security breach.


Last year ArchiTeam were able to negotiate with CAD software suppliers of AutoCad and ArchiCad, significantly reduced rates on subscriptions for our members. These deals were only available for a set period of time. We are currently looking at negotiating on-going reduced rates for our members.

Gray Smith is director of Gray Smith Architecture and an ArchiTeam Director