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Don't build your business on a foundation of pirated software

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Tech Talk by Peter Mate
Peter Mate is owner and president of Planit Canada, a software and services company devoted to servicing the manufacturing industry. For more info email
In the world of woodworking, we take 
pride in using the right 
tools for the job. We understand that investing in quality equipment leads to better 
results and a safer workshop.
But what about the less tangible tools we rely on every day – the software that helps us design, manage projects, and even run our businesses?
The temptation of free software is understandable. When you're bootstrapping a business or trying to save costs, the allure of cracked versions of expensive CAD programs or pirated office suites can be strong. However, using pirated software is like handling a ticking time bomb in your workshop – it's not a matter of if it'll blow up, but when.
The financial penalties for businesses caught using pirated software are severe, often far exceeding the cost of simply buying legitimate licenses. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Here's what you're truly risking:
Viruses and malware: Pirated software is a breeding ground for hidden dangers. You could be inviting ransom ware that locks up your entire project database, spyware that steals client information, or worse, into your systems.
Zero support: When that free software crashes, glitches out, or won't update properly, don't expect help from the developers. You're on your own, risking project delays and client frustration.
Damaged reputation: Imagine explaining to a client that their project data was compromised or lost because you were using pirated software. The reputational damage could be far more costly than any fine.
Security nightmares: Pirated software might work today, but what about tomorrow? Cracks and illegal key generators often leave your systems more vulnerable to hacking and data breaches, putting not only your business but your clients' sensitive information at risk.

Some people think they can fly under the radar, using VPNs or offline computers to hide their tracks. Don't be fooled. Software developers are relentless in fighting piracy. They have sophisticated ways to track illegal usage, even if you think you're being clever. It's like playing Russian roulette: you might get away with it for a while, but eventually, your luck will run out.
Claiming ignorance won't protect you. As a business owner, you're responsible for ensuring the software you use is legitimate. Pleading that an employee used pirated software without your knowledge puts you in an even worse situation – it demonstrates a lack of oversight and control.
The smart choice is clear: don't risk building your woodworking business on a foundation of pirated software.

Here's what you need to do:
Audit and act: Review all software used in your business. If you find 
anything unlicensed, take 
immediate action. Delete pirated software and 
purchase legitimate versions.
Craft a policy: Create a clear policy against software piracy, outlining consequences for employees who violate it. Communicate this policy to your entire team.
Educate and empower: Explain the risks of pirated software to your employees. Make sure they understand that it's not just morally wrong, but a direct threat to the business they work for.

Choosing ethical software practices isn't just about avoiding fines; it's about protecting your business's future. Think of it as investing in insurance: you're safeguarding your hard work, your reputation, and your ability to sleep soundly at night knowing you've done the right thing.

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