According to John Wolfe, Director of Internet Enforcement with the Business Software Alliance online auction sites have sold £4 million ($8 million) worth pirated software in just six months.

The BSA has managed to prevent 36,000 illegal products from getting sold in the same period, but it does look like it is fighting a losing battle here. Until consumers either learn that expensive 'new' software going for a song really is too good to be true, or perhaps more appropriately learn that it is ethically and legally wrong to purchase it, the problem will continue. Especially as this is most definitely not an auction only circumstance. WaReZ websites and P2P networks carry an average of 200,000 pieces of pirated software at any time according to the BSA.

"This is the tip of the iceberg" Wolfe told DaniWeb, explaining that the figure only represents those auctions where members' copyrights have been identified as being infringed and action taken to have them closed. BSA members include Apple and Microsoft. "Some auction offers may lead to dozens or even hundreds of purchases of illegal software. When buying software on auction sites, people need to be concerned if prices appear too good to be true. Counterfeit copies may not give you the functionality and full benefits of a legal version. There is also a significant data protection risk in that counterfeit software may be linked to hackers looking to access your network." Indeed, a recent study from IDC suggests that your chances of getting a legal copy of software, without malware attached to the code, at an auction site is actually less than one in two!

"Businesses purchasing their software via these online offers should use caution to avoid being duped or unwittingly introducing viruses or Spyware onto their networks. They also face the legal and financial risks associated with violating intellectual property laws by installing unlicensed software" Wolfe concludes.