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Q about use of Windows counterfeit software

The Metal God

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Hope someone could help me out here. I have an argument with a guy in a Norvegian forum and i can't find evidence on the web supporting my claims....

Regarding a preinstalled XP laptop...

My statement: It's illegal to download Windows installation files from other sites than Microsoft.com. The Windows licening rules are broken as soon as the software is downloaded ( It's a crime to have an unauthorised copy of Microsoft software in hand ).

The other guy says: There is nothing wrong with downloading Windows installation files from a p2p-network as long as the installation key under (laptop) the pc is used under installation.

As far as i know is the XP COA sticker on pc's from an OEM that uses preactivated installation locked to the harware (SLP) only an indicator that the pc was intsalled with genuine Windows XP software. It can not be used as an installation key as other versions of the COA.

OEM that uses SLP are: ACER, DELL, HP, MEDION.....

Further he claims that he have sucsessfully reinstalled a Vista laptop (oem preinstalled) using his own Vista retail-dvd and key from the laptop COA-sticker.

I beleve that this will detroy the preinstalled systems recovery functions and overwrite oem-bios files. Correct?

I'm confused :(

Is there anyone that will clarify the use of the COA-sticker key on preinstalled / preactivatet systems.

Also please answer my first Q regarding piracy.

TheMetalGod :)

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1 - Illegal and dangerous (as in "altered") but licensing has nothing to do with it. The License is in the Key and the particular flavor of the system. Many PC repair shops have all of the installation media (flavors) available and use the customer's Key when necessary (e.g. re-installation due to really hosed system).

2 - COA on the pc/laptop is not for SLP. The correct files for SLP pre-activation is a different subject/method (enough on that). The COA is only good for valid OEM install CD's/files and still requires validation/activation.

3 - Maybe they did, and yes it will probably destroy the Recovery function.

side note -

Compaq used to supply the OEM XP Home CD as part of the Recovery CD set. Use of the COA would cause activation to be necessary if CD used separately. If used during the Recovery process, pre-activation (SLP) kicked in. A CD can sometimes be created from the Installation that can be used in the same manner, with the COA (not SLP, again enough on that).

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My statement: It's illegal to download Windows installation files from other sites than Microsoft.com. The Windows licening rules are broken as soon as the software is downloaded ( It's a crime to have an unauthorised copy of Microsoft software in hand ).

If I may, your statement is inaccurate.

It's illegal to download Windows installation files from other sites than Microsoft.com.

Not really.

It may be illegal to do so in countries where the Law prohibits it.

The Windows licensing rules are broken as soon as the software is downloaded

Well, NO.

Until you download the file and read the EULA you CANNOT know it's contents, unless you have ESP capabilities.

The License or EULA is a (supposedly, as again it depends on each country's Laws) binding agreement between Microsoft and the licensee, i.e. the End User, the person who receives the files (supposedly and originally from Microsoft).

The EULA states that you CANNOT re-distribute files, i.e. the one that is breaking the EULA is the one that ALLOWS redistribution or GIVES the copy, not the one who receives the files (which is not binded until he reads the EULA).

You simply cannot infringe anything that you don't know or that you haven't read and explicitly agreed upon.

It's a crime to have an unauthorised copy of Microsoft software in hand

Laws may consider the fact that the mere act of being in possession of an unauthorised copy a crime (and again whether it is permitted, it is a crime, it is a felony or it is a "minor" thing: a misdemeanor, may, and does change from country to country), but this has NOTHING to do with the EULA.


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Thank you both ! :)

jaclaz: I understand your arguments. I totaly agree, but we all know that a torrent-downloaded installation media is illegaly obtained software.

I guess that this forum do not permit their users to link to illegal material (like torrentfiles or other links providing Microsoft installation media).?

Since the legal aspect of this is rather complicated i guess the best thing to do in my case is to recommend to the forum admin at itpro.no that the forum rules prohibit this type of discussion and linking like it's done her at msfn.org.

1.a This is not a warez site! Links/Requests to warez and/or illegal material (e.g., cracks, serials, etc.) will not be tolerated. Discussion of circumventing WGA/activation/timebombs/license restrictions, use of keygens, or any other illegal activity, including, but not limited to, requests for help where pirated software is being used or being discussed, will also not be tolerated. You will be warned on your first offence. If you choose to continue, you will be banned without notice

Thanx again :hello:

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Basically, redistribution of Microsoft's software violates the copyright, so the person doing the file download is violating the copyright just as the person providing the copy is (this definition of violation of copyright has been upheld in the United States, Canada, and the EU countries at the very least that I am aware of). It is indeed illegal to violate valid copyright in almost all countries, and it is in all industrialized countries. Again, in most countries it is legal to have a backup copy of the software (and Microsoft provides this specifically in the EULA to the license owner), and to do with it as you wish on your own PC short of reverse-engineering, I believe the limitation is (meaning making an unattended installation, adding updates/packages, imaging the install, etc). However, you are conferred no rights to copy to or for someone else (hence "copyright") or to obtain any copy from someone other than the vendor or a vendor-authorized 3rd party.

Since the discussion isn't about warez software but about legality, this is a perfectly fine discussion and violates no rules. So, to make a long story short and reply to your original post, the "other guy" is wrong. It is *not* legal to use any copy you'd like to install, you MUST use the media obtained from the vendor directly or an authorized 3rd party (usually this means the OEM who sold you the PC, although certain large repair shops have reinstallation media rights as well).

As to the comment about not knowing the EULA before you acquire the software, this is covered in the EULA itself - it is online for reading beforehand for most of the folks of the world, but in the event that you can't read it online the documentation that comes with the software itself contains the necessary text to explain that you have an explicit right that if you do not agree with the terms of the license when you acquired said valid copy from an authorized vendor, you can (and indeed, must) return it for a refund. If you do not agree with the terms of the license and copyright, you MUST cease use immediately and return the packaging and media, period. Continued use constitutes acceptance of the license, and again, at least in the US, Canada, and EU, this is legal and binding. You can't just download a copy of Windows and think you're absolved of copyright infringement just because you didn't make the original copy. It's "copying a copy", and it's as much a copyright violation as making the original copy itself and making it available. The tricky bit is that software with a license (as in the case of most commercially-available software programs) is licensed to the license holder, *not sold*. You do not actually *own* the software copy itself, you only hold a license granting you the use of it. This means that most copyright law exemptions for copying or obtaining copies of copyrighted works actually do not apply to software as they do to most other copyrightable medium (and the courts in the US, Canada, and EU have upheld this interpretation of copyright law), meaning that making any copy that does not constitute a singular backup for safe-keeping or making a copy necessary for the use of running the software (aka installing it to the hard disk or executing a copy in RAM) is a violation of copyright, as is obtaining a copy in this same manner. Note that in the EU at least, you *can* resell the OEM software that came with your computer, but only if you uninstall it first, and provide the installation media and any and all other parts of the software package to the seller (and it remains to be seen how recovery media only installations of Windows fall under this, although I don't know how common that is in the EU as of yet). However, the aforementioned *copying* or *providing copies* of software other than for backup purposes for yourself is still a violation of copyright law, and even reselling OEM software in most of the other parts of the world violates copyright as well.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just to expound on the subject, a quote from the Microsoft.com piracy site for their documentation on the issue and their stance:

Non-Microsoft.com downloads

Microsoft does not authorize any other Web sites to offer downloads of Microsoft software. Some of these counterfeit downloads may include viruses or broken code. The only way to download genuine Microsoft software is through Microsoft.com.

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  • 1 month later...

What is sometimes difficult to explain is that

  1. a License to use software
  2. the possession of the actual media on which the software is stored
  3. the redistribution of non-redistributable software

Are three different things, in the specific Microsoft case:

the license may be :

  • "full" i.e. you are entitled to use a single instance of the OS on "any" hardware
  • "OEM" i.e. the validity of your license is limited to a single instance of the OS on a single specific machine, to which the license is tied
  • "VLK" (improper term, but widely used) in which the license is for a given number of machines

the media may be:

  • "Full", a normal installation CD/DVD
  • "OEM", a normal "OEM" disk, i.e. identical to the above but with different keys or "specific OEM" like the ones Dell or HP gives/gave, and/or with specific provision to only work on the given machine
  • "VLK", (again improper), a "normal" installation disk, identical to the first but with different keys
  • NON-existant, like the recover CD/DVD's some OEM's give or the contents of the "Recovery partition" those OEM's that wish to save 0,05 US$ of a CD/DVD
  • NON-existant , like other OEM's that give you the possibility to create an actual install CD/DVD from a "recovery" or "hidden" partition

the downloads rule are rather simple:

  • any download NOT from Microsoft or one of their partners is NOT "original", but the "general" EULA for the OS is often superseded by single licenses that actually allow for redistribution

The point is that you can find on the internet (excluding warez and torrents :ph34r:) a number of apparently "legit" (and most probably actually so) sites, software houses and what not that put inside their products or as part of "customer support" or whatever entire or rather "full" chunks of the OS files, just as an example this thingy here:


much to my surprise turns up as containing a rather "full" PE 2.x .iso

How can one say if that is legit or not? :unsure:

However what really counts is the actual number and type of License you have:

1 machine=1 license

2 machines=2 licenses

3 machines=3 licenses


5 machines=5 licenses ( or 1 "VLK" license for 5 machines)


For OEM licenses it is:

1 machine=1 license for the specific hardware



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