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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Public prosecutors investigate extremely cheap software licenses

Buy an activation key for Microsoft’s Windows 10 for a few euros? Not a good idea. Public prosecutors investigate both dealers and buyers.

Dubious software licenses or keys are repeatedly offered on the Internet, often from Microsoft, but also from other software owners. Extremely low prices should make buyers suspicious. Because: If you strike anyway, in the worst case you face a trial and a penalty. Both seller and buyer may be liable to prosecution.

When asked by heise online, the Central Office for Economic Criminal Matters of the Koblenz Public Prosecutor’s Office explains that the proceedings of the past few years were primarily directed against dealers, but also against buyers. “According to Section 152 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the public prosecutor’s office is obliged to initiate investigative proceedings if it has sufficient factual indications of criminal behavior.” The principle of legality states that a preliminary investigation must be initiated whenever there is any initial suspicion of a criminal offense.

The buyer is then investigated for “unauthorized use of works protected by copyright” and “frivolous money laundering”. The range of punishment is imprisonment of up to three years or a fine. Of course, the actual sentence imposed by the court will depend on factors such as previous convictions and other mitigating circumstances. The dealers can be guilty of “commercial exploitation of works protected by copyright” as well as a potential violation of the trademark law.

According to the Koblenz public prosecutor’s office, at least five extensive proceedings have been conducted against dealers in the past seven years – where the jurisdiction was due to the dealer’s headquarters in Koblenz. The proceedings against buyers are usually passed on to the appropriate local public prosecutor’s offices. The number of proceedings from Koblenz is said to be in the low five-digit range.

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