What Does Softlifting Mean?

Softlifting is the act of purchasing a single copy of software and then downloading it onto more than one computer, despite agreement terms stating the software must only be downloaded once.


Softlifting does not involve selling copies of protected creative works. Rather, it occurs when an individual or organization distributes copies to friends, colleagues or others. Softlifting is considered to be the most common form of software piracy.

This term is also known as softloading or end-user piracy.

Techopedia Explains Softlifting

Softlifting also occurs when an organization has agreed to software licensing terms and then provides employees with copies for use at home.

Softlifting is so common that the Software & Information Industry Association estimates that one out of every four digital business copies in the United States is considered to be softlifted. Eastern Europe is especially prone to incidences of softlifting, and an estimated 60 percent of software copies in that part of the world are believed to be pirated. The least amount of softlifting takes place in the United States, where about 25 percent of software copies are pirated. However, U.S. vendors and manufacturers suffer greater losses than countries in Eastern Europe as a result of this phenomenon.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…