A tech industry group is offering consumers up to $500 for reporting software counterfeiters who sell their goods on online auction sites like eBay.
Under the plan offered by the Software & Information Industry Association, anyone who unwittingly buys fake software from an online fraudster can receive up to $500 if they report the scam.
The SIIA said it hopes tipsters will use the reward money to buy legitimate, replacement software, but under the program rules they're free to use it any way they want.
SIIA officials said the program is a "don't get mad, get even" approach to stopping software piracy. It's "a way for unsuspecting buyers to get even with auction sellers who rip them off," said SIIA VP Keith Kupferschmid, in a statement.
The SIIA said it was forced to implement the program because it doesn't get enough anti-counterfeiting help from eBay and other online auctioneers. "These sites are unwilling to take the actions necessary to reduce the high-volume software piracy taking place on their sites," said Kupferschmid.
The campaign, launched December 13, is slated to run through January 30, 2008.
The SIIA membership includes dozens of major software developers, including Adobe, Symantec and Quark. Of late, it's been increasingly vigilant toward software pirates.
Earlier this month, the SIIA filed a lawsuit against the prestigious Philadelphia law firm Fox Rothschild. The group claimed the firm is using illegally copied versions of commercial software on its internal systems. The SIIA said it learned of the alleged violations from a tipster.
Fox Rothschild hasn't commented on the lawsuit.
Software piracy costs commercial developers billions of dollars in lost revenue each year, according to various industry estimates.