Policies and Statements

Preventing Software Piracy

The following information can help you identify pirated software and keep your MathWorks licenses compliant. Piracy is a growing concern throughout the software industry, and many people don't know when they are violating the software license agreement or that they have installed pirated versions of MathWorks software. Please use these resources to help with your organization's compliance efforts and contact us with any questions you may have along the way.

What is software piracy?

Software piracy can take the following forms:

End-User Piracy

The methods of end-user piracy can vary based on the MathWorks license option you have purchased. See the license options overview for a description of each option and the usage rights associated with them.

Examples of end-user piracy include:
  • Installing and using software on the machine of an individual who is not the licensed user
  • Over-installing software for use beyond the licensed quantity
  • Using the software on more “designated computers” than you are licensed for
  • Installing the software on a local-area network for use by individuals who are not licensed users
  • Using the software in unauthorized geographical regions
  • Acquiring academic or student software for commercial use (See the definition of academic and student license qualification.)

Internet Piracy

Internet piracy occurs when users download software from the Internet. The same purchasing rules apply to online software purchase as to those bought in traditional ways. Examples:

  • Pirate Web sites that make software available for free download, or that post cracked passcodes
  • Internet auction sites that offer counterfeit, out-of-channel, or copyright-infringing software
  • Peer-to-peer networks that enable unauthorized transfer of copyrighted programs

Software Counterfeiting

This type of piracy is the illegal duplication and sale of copyrighted material with the intent to directly imitate the copyrighted product. In the case of packaged software, counterfeit versions often include copies of CDs or diskettes containing the software programs, as well as related packaging, manuals, license agreements, labels, registration cards, and security features.

Why is preventing piracy important?

Developing software is a team effort that involves the creative ideas and talents of development engineers, writers, and designers. Computer software, just like other creative works, is protected by U.S copyright laws, U.S. code Title 17 and 18.

Our goal is to accelerate the pace of discovery, innovation, development, and learning in engineering and science through the software we create. To this end, we make substantial and continuing research and development efforts, which are funded through the sales of our software products.

Software piracy hurts everyone because it:
  • Reduces the funding for ongoing development efforts
  • Reduces job opportunities
  • Allows for unauthorized copies of our software that may contain bugs and viruses to be used in the field
  • Prevents users from getting high-quality technical support and product updates

Piracy is not only a problem for MathWorks. It is an industry and worldwide issue. According to the BSA, Thirty-five percent of the packaged software installed on personal computers (PC) worldwide in 2005 was illegal, amounting to $34 billion in global losses due to software piracy. 

Software Piracy is stealing. If you or your company were caught pirating software, you could be held liable under both civil and criminal law. If a copyright owner brings a civil action against you, the penalties in the U.S. may be up to $150,000 for each program copied. The U.S. government can also criminally prosecute you. If you are convicted, you can be fined up to $250,000, sentenced to jail for up to five years, or both.

How can I help to keep my software licenses compliant?

There are several good ways to keep track of your licenses and users:

  • Use available software asset management systems, audit tools, and other resources to help you ensure software compliance
  • Educate your staff on the licensing requirements of your software purchases
  • Conduct a self-audit of your software licenses
  • Acquire any licenses needed for full compliance

What is MathWorks doing to prevent piracy?

MathWorks has formed a License Compliance Team to help educate our customers on the legal use of software licenses and to coordinate our anti-piracy efforts. The team's activities include:

  • Developing customer communications on the legal use of our software licenses
  • Working with individual customers to resolve licensing concerns
  • Participating in the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an organization dedicated to promoting a safe and legal digital world
  • Instituting Student Software product activation and Professional Version product activation
  • License Compliance Audits - Like many software companies, and consistent with the MathWorks software license agreement, MathWorks uses a license compliance audit process, assisted by an independent third-party auditing firm. Selected customers are notified in advance to discuss audit timing and procedures - this is done in a manner to minimize the impact to daily operations during the process.

How do I report piracy?

You can anonymously report piracy of MathWorks software products by filling out the piracy reporting form. The MathWorks License Compliance Team actively works with customer to resolve licensing concerns.

What resources are available for learning more?

You can learn more about preventing software piracy through a number of industry organizations dedicated to this cause, as well as government sites that describe intellectual property rights, protections, and penalties for abuse.



MathWorks is a member of the Business Software Alliance (BSA), a global organization formed to advance free and open world transfer for legitimate software by advocating strong intellectual property protection. The BSA represents leading software and e-commerce developers in 65 countries. For more information about the BSA or to report software piracy, visit the BSA Web site at www.bsa.org .



The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) is a trade organization for the software and digital content industry. SIIA offers global services in business development, government relations, corporate education, and intellectual property protection to companies. It also advocates a legal and regulatory environment that benefits the entire industry. For more information about SIIA or to report software piracy, visit the SIIA Web site at www.siia.net .



The Federation Against Software Theft was set up in 1984 by the British Computer Society's Copyright Committee, and was the first software copyright organization in the U.K. Its first action was to raise the awareness of software piracy and to lobby the U.K. Parliament for changes in the Copyright Act of 1956 to reflect the needs of software authors and publishers. This campaign was successful, and FAST has since been able to influence other legislation that impacts the proper safeguarding of software. The work of FAST in this area has directly influenced the way software copyright law and investigations are carried out in many other countries. To learn more, visit www.fast.org.

Government Resources on Software Piracy