If I use a music program illegally to make my own music, sell it, get money, and buy the same program legally while also deleting all pirated versions having not accepted the EULA before I have started doing the program illegally, can I be held liable upon inspection?

P.S. Does the asking of this question make me more liable? Can the American police find me in the EU where the laws might be different regarding surveillance? In my country's law, any illegally obtained evidence such as spying on someone is automatically an invalid evidence no matter what. But what if multiple laws collide?

  • What country's law are we talking about? – David Thornley Dec 6 '18 at 17:49
  • Croatian------- – Foxcat385 Dec 6 '18 at 20:38

In my opinion, your question is no different from "If I steal money from a bank to pay off my credit card in the same bank, can I be held liable for stealing". I think the obvious answer is yes for both your question and the modified one, for exactly the same reason.

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  • Thank you for your answer. Because of this, I will need to delete this question so that I don't have trouble in the future even if I won't use pirated software. EDIT: I think that it shouldn't need deletion. I've read some more regarding the Code of Conduct and guidelines regarding deleting questions. – Foxcat385 Dec 5 '18 at 23:17
  • Stealing money from a bank deprives the bank of money. Using pirated software directly hurts nobody. They aren't even covered by the same laws. They're both illegal, but not really comparable. – David Thornley Dec 5 '18 at 23:32
  • @davidthorney of course they are comparable - in case of a bank you deprive it of its money, in case of a software company you deprive it of its unrealized profits. We are not talking exact laws, here, i just gave an example of why staking software to later buy software is still a crime. I'm not talking about its moral side, just legal, so whether either action harmed anyone is irrelevant. – Andrey Dec 5 '18 at 23:40
  • @Andrey There's a difference between depriving a bank of actual money and depriving a company of anticipated profit. I can do the latter perfectly legally by writing bad reviews of the software. In this case, the plan is to buy a legitimate copy of the software, which means the company would get all anticipated profit. BTW, simply making unauthorized copies is not criminal (although the proposed actions might be). The laws are different. The impacts of the actions are different. I'm not talking morality either, just trying to point out the differences. – David Thornley Dec 6 '18 at 17:47
  • Alright. How about this? I use someone else's computer to use the program and the program's EULA allows multi-user single-computer usage xor single-user multi-computer usage. So if I do that and then get money and then buy my own license, how would that be illegal? I mean, wouldn't that actually make it even more legal? Also, talk about loans. This is like a loan. I don't have as much as I should, but I repay it and it's okay. And speaking about profits, if some bank's profit is quenching my life, then in order to survive according to Human Rights, the end justifies the means. – Foxcat385 Dec 6 '18 at 20:42

I'm going to talk about US copyright law here.

By using a program illegally, I assume you mean that you have made an illicit copy. Making and using the copy is copyright infringement. If the copy is legitimate, it isn't infringing (it's legal to make copies as necessary for execution - such as copying from disk or SSD or optical drive to memory - as long as the copy is lawfully obtained). This infringement is not criminal itself, but it opens you to civil liability. The copyright holder could sue you. Assuming the copyright is registered (and it will be for commercial software), the suit could be for statutory damages, which can be quite high (up to $150,000 for willful infringement).

In practice, nobody is going to come after you for just making your own illicit copy, since it would be sufficiently difficult to prove it in court to not be worth it. The lawsuits about song copyright infringement were based on torrents. A torrent is a way of disseminating files with a peer-to-peer network, so that, in addition to downloading pieces of the file from others, the user is uploading pieces of the file to others. This is much easier to detect and prove. The downloading is as unlawful as the uploading (at least in the US), but the uploading is much easier to see and can provide probable cause.

However, you're proposing to make money from an illicit copy, which puts it in the category of criminal copyright infringement if the value of the software (and everything else you violate copyright law over in 180 days) is over $1000. It's doubtful that anybody would actually prosecute unless you made it attractive somehow, but it's possible.

If you're confident that you can make enough from the use of the program to buy a legitimate copy, you could try scraping up the money somehow and using a legit copy from the start, avoiding all the problems.

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Yes, you can be held liable. While what you do may be morally acceptable, and arguably might be argued as mitigating the damage the other party suffered, it does not change the fact that you are liable for your actions.

Depending on who and how you ask the question, it could make you "more liable", not in as much as you are "more liable then before", but as much as the risk of "here is evidence of what I did" that can be used against you.

It is unclear that this matter has anything to do with police, as I am unaware of police enforcing copyright - this is generally left to other organizations.

If you are particularly concerned about "righting your wrongs" legally, you might want to engage a lawyer to act on your behalf - presumably they can make a credible approach to the injured party (ie the owner of the music program), and can negotiate some kind of settlement "without prejudice".

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