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Watch Your Backup

Do those online auction deals sound too good to be true? They probably are.

Adobe Photoshop 5.0 for $12. Macromedia Director for $28. You can find great software bargains through online auctions, but what are you really getting?

According to a recent survey by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), 60 percent of auctioned software is illegitimate. The SIIA investigation covered a five-day span of auctions of Macromedia, FileMaker, Visio and Adobe software on eBay, ZDNet and Excite. Of 221 auctions, the SIIA determined 109 were illegitimate, 72 were legitimate and 40 were inconclusive.

While buyers might get cheap software, they often don't get technical support, access to upgrades or protection from viruses. EBay recently banned all auctions of CD-R and "backup" software programs. Still, auction sites rely heavily on buyers to report illegal or suspect products. If you've bought any illegitimate software, report it to the SIIA at http://www.siia.net or by calling their anti-piracy hotline at (800) 388-7478.

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This article was originally published in the January 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Watch Your Backup.

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