Computer Crime Research Center


Definition of Computer Piracy, Carrying Out Expert Examination

Date: July 12, 2004
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: Andrey Belousov

Computer piracy is reproduction, distribution and use of software without permission of the owner of copyright.

Kinds of illegal software use that can be qualified as copyright violation:
- selling of computer facilities with illegally installed software;
- replication and distribution of software copies on information carriers without permission of the copyright owner;
- illegal distribution of software through communication networks (Internet, e-mail, etc.);
- illegal use of software by the user.

The grounds for search in such cases is information on presence of pirated articles, technical devices for replication, wrapping, producing and sticking of polygraphy on products in the apartment, house, storehouse of the detainee. It is necessary to determine a circle of experts, technical devices that should be drawn to search, to foresee ways of counteraction to deletion of important information.

Specifics of carrying out such activities as search and seizure in cases of copyright and adjacent rights violation lies in the following:

1. Officers, as a rule, manage to find huge lots of pirated production (from several hundreds through several thousands of items) in the premises under search. Therefore it takes some time to look through items and to complete a report. In the first place the officer should postpone the check and secure the object from unauthorized penetration to the location and to note it in the report.
2. Officers often manage to find (seize) huge lots of little items: counterfeit holograms, documentary stamps, various labels, trade marks, etc. These items should be packed by "assortment" in separate boxes, seal up and certify by corresponding signatures. Their further examination and detailed description can be made later, maybe involving an expert or a detainee from whom these items were seized.
3. It is expedient to film or photograph the process of search (seizure) to take picture of general view of the premise (location), all search activities to reveal, detect hidings and to fix individual objects and behavior of persons who are being searched. All mentioned strengthens evidentiary role of search or seizure in the court.

Since investigator is not an expert in some issues that demand special knowledge, he should assign examination in cases of intellectual property rights violation including
- technical (examination of documents);
- trassological;
- merchandising examination.
Complex examination is aslo assigned in some cases.

Signs of pirated production:
- absence of polygraphic packing;
- examined polygraphic packing is different from the original;
- counterfeit polygraphic packing;
- absence of original reserved label;
- counterfeit hologram;
- indication of another copyright owner;
- absence of Copyright and Adjacent Rights Protection sign;
- different from the original kind and way of wrapping;
- different from the original production;
- absence of special stamping on the polygraphic wrapping;
- two or more movies on the videotape or dvd;
- other distinctive features that can be detected during examination.

Experts mention the following criteria during examination of computer software disks:
- absence of high quality image on the other side of the CD;
- absence of high quality logotype of the company developer on the other side of the CD;
- absence of high quality standard paper box, that has, as a rule, quality polygraphic design with counterfeit protection elements like micro seals, holograms;
- licensed programs are manufactured by not more than one on each CD.

Experts fix absence or availability of concealed signs of piracy during forensic examination. Special skills, corresponding criminalistic facilities and comparative research are applied in order to reveal them. So ascertainment of the fact of distinction of polygraphic wrapping seized from the supposed violator, from the original wrapping by design, way of manufacture (for instance copying original packing), as well as detection of counterfeiting of protective label or hologram or their discrepancy to the original proves that the examined product posesses piracy signs.

A question of revelation of information in data bases that can be used to produce corresponding copies of packing, labels in frames of this examination should also be considered.

A merchandising examination is assigned to determine a basic question of modus operandi provided for by Article 176 of the Criminal Code and to estimate the damage caused.

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