Plausible Deniability in Software Purchasing

By Deane Barker on January 26, 2004

I just bought some really cheap software: it’s $199 retail, and I got it through an Amazon reseller for $17.90 plus tax.

The seller had a great feedback rating. I was still a little wary, so I emailed him before buying and asked what the catch was. No catch, he assured me, it just didn’t come with a box. For that kind of savings, I figured I had nothing to lose, so I bought it.

Now I wonder: what is my responsbility in this transaction? How much due diligence do I have to do to make sure that this software isn’t pirated? The seller tells me:

There is no catch. You will receive brand New Original authentic software CD with Manual on CD itself & free live Updates for full 1 Year. So practically you will get everything except box at the fraction of the cost.

Looking at this again, I can’t help but think maybe this software has been installed somewhere else, and this guy’s just selling off the retail CD. But, is it my responsibility to make sure of this? As a generally tech-savvy guy, should I look at the financials (less than 10% of the retail price) and know that this isn’t legit?

I don’t want to contribute to software piracy, and I don’t want to cheat a company out of their money. But if the seller assures me that everything is on-the-level, and the only warning alarm is a really, really low price, am I in the clear legally? How about ethically?

Gadgetopia