If I buy a license for some software which has mandatory online license check to install (in games, for example. Steam games - or any other online store, actually, but could be non-games, anything), is it illegal to download it from some piracy website so I will always have the program working, even after the company has shutdown their servers? Because if they shut them down, I won't be able to install the software ever again because it has online license check to install it. So if I download it after buying it, I can have it forever and I could use any of the 2 installers (either the pirated one or the bought one, since I have proof of buying it somewhere).

Is this a correct thinking?

EDIT: As an example (recent one), a game of Disney stopped working because Disney didn't update certificates or something. So people couldn't install the game anymore, only use it if they already had it. Still, they bought it, so in theory, they should have it forever since they payed for it. So when Disney doesn't update the certificates (or whatever was the problem - I don't remember well) anymore because it's too old or any other reason, no one will be able to install it without downloading a pirated version. For sure this must have happened more times, but this recent example came to my mind (months ago I heard about it).

Thank you in advance!

  • Does this answer your question? Legality of creating your own backup copies of video games you own
    – user4657
    Mar 24, 2020 at 0:17
  • More or less, because here I had a stronger reason to download them - the company would go down and the software wouldn't install anymore (could be anything else, not just games, by the way).
    – Edw590
    Mar 24, 2020 at 11:43
  • Just because you buy a legal copy of a game, does not give you the right to go obtain an illegal copy of that same game. If you are not happy with the online license check, the correct and legal action is not to buy the game at all because of that.
    – Brandin
    Mar 25, 2020 at 13:03

1 Answer 1


When you legally purchase a license for software, the license typically specifies the conditions under which you may use the software. It might therefore say "only if you download our version of the program from the official Disney software server". So downloading an illegal cracked version of the software would be copyright infringement, since permission is granted only is you comply with the terms of the license. It's possible that there is software that has a sloppy enough license that it doesn't make "from an authorized source" part of the license. So it is almost certain that you violate copyright law in downloading a pirated copy. The legally-correct remedy is to pursue the matter with the original licensor, or their successor (e.g. GameHouse in the case of Real Networks).

  • Oh right, thanks! So what if the company goes bankrupt and no one buys it? How could I have the software installing again? (or in that case as everything to do with the company disappeared, it's not piracy anymore because there's no one to hold the rights to the software?)
    – Edw590
    Mar 24, 2020 at 11:45

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