About Microsoft

As the worldwide leader in software for personal computers, Microsoft’s mission has always been to make it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day. With easy access to the Internet creating a truly global marketplace, it is increasingly difficult for consumers to know which software products are genuine - and which vendors are legitimate.

That is why Microsoft is now dedicated to making it easier, safer and more enjoyable to shop - especially for computer software - on the Internet.


Buying and Selling Microsoft Software Safely on eBay

There is a considerable volume of counterfeit and other unauthorized software sold on the Internet, including on eBay and other Internet auction sites.  Consumers who purchase such software have no right to use or redistribute the software that they receive, and may have no access to technical support or product upgrades.  Such software can also put at risk the integrity of their computer systems.  To protect consumers and to safeguard our intellectual property rights, Microsoft and other software publishers continually monitor the Internet to identify auctions of unauthorized software.

Resellers:  If you are redistributing Microsoft software on eBay, it is your responsibility to ensure that the software is genuine and is being distributed consistently with all applicable licenses.  Click here (or see below) for information that can help you determine if your auction is lawful.

Buyers:  For tips that can help you avoid acquiring counterfeit or otherwise unauthorized software, click here (or see below).


Information for Resellers

Resellers who follow good business practices can minimize their risk of selling counterfeit or otherwise unauthorized software:

  • Acquire software from authorized, reputable distributors, such as the Microsoft Authorized distributors and Microsoft Authorized OEM distributors from whom genuine Microsoft software is guaranteed.

  • Obtain and distribute legal, authorized software licenses in original packaging.  If the packaging looks suspicious (lower print quality, different color scheme), the product may be counterfeit.

  • Familiarize yourself with the licensing for each software title you distribute, to make sure that you and your customers are in compliance with the law.

  • If you build PC systems, join the Microsoft OEM System Builder Program.  Register at the OEM System Builder Web site at www.microsoft.com/uk/partner/partnering/oem/


Microsoft Software Packaging & Licensing

The following overview of Microsoft’s software packaging and licensing is intended to help eBay buyers and sellers determine if they are acquiring or distributing genuine licensed Microsoft software.

CD-only ·  OEM Software ·  Academic Software ·  Fulfillment
Not For Resale ·  Computer Systems ·  MSDN/TechNet Subscriptions

Distribution of Incomplete Software Packages

Microsoft software is licensed as a complete package including the program disk and Certificate of Authenticity and, for certain software, the user manual and a printed End User License Agreement.  Any offer to transfer Microsoft software should include the components with which it was originally distributed by Microsoft.  The distribution of an incomplete software package, such as the program disk only, separates a copyright-protected item into its component parts.  Counterfeit software is frequently distributed in CD-only form, although there are also counterfeit versions of full software packages.  In all instances, you should be wary of offers from suppliers that seem too good to be true.

Unauthorized Distribution of OEM or Academic Software

  • OEM software is intended for original equipment manufacturers who preinstall this specially licensed software onto the PCs they manufacture. An OEM version may only be distributed as part of a fully assembled computer system. A fully assembled computer system consists of at least a central processing unit, a motherboard, a hard drive, a power supply and a case. Don’t be fooled by a seller providing OEM software alone.  The OEM System Builder Agreement, which governs the distribution of OEM software, can be reviewed here www.microsoft.com/oem/sblicense/.

    Large brand-name computer manufacturers, such as Dell and Compaq, often include OEM software on non-holographic “recovery” or “reinstallation” discs that show the manufacturer’s brand name. These software packages are typically marked with a phrase that states, for instance, “For Distribution with a new Dell PC only.” Recovery or reinstallation software is licensed only for distribution with new computers and can be redistributed only with the computer for which it was initially distributed. Distributing such software with individual PC hardware components (e.g. hard drive; RAM) does not comply with Microsoft’s OEM distribution requirements.

  • Authorized Educational Resellers licensed by Microsoft may distribute academic versions of Microsoft software only to qualified end users.  If you are an end user who wishes to transfer your academic software to another individual, it is your responsibility (as outlined in the End User License Agreement’s “Software Transfer” clause) to ensure that the recipient is a qualified end user and that the recipient agrees to accept the terms of the software license.  Qualified end users include educational institutions (including wholly owned educational hospitals), associated boards, faculty, staff, students of higher education institutions, public libraries and public museums.  Distribution to individuals or organizations other than those listed here is NOT authorized.

    If you are offering to distribute academic versions of Microsoft software on eBay, we suggest that you include in your item description a phrase such as “Proof of Academic status required at the close of the auction.”  This will help ensure that the high bidder is qualified to obtain Academic software, and will alert our Internet investigators that you plan to verify Academic status.

Fulfillment Components

Microsoft provides shrink-wrapped “Fulfillment” CD-ROMs and user manuals to customers who have entered into a volume license agreement with Microsoft.  These components are typically shrink-wrapped and bear stickers on the CD-ROM case identifying them as Microsoft World Wide Fulfillment components.  These components are not licensed for use or redistribution by the general public, and may not lawfully be redistributed except when transferred together with a volume license agreement.

“Not For Resale” and Promotional Software

Microsoft software identified as “Not For Resale”, “NFR”, or “Promotional” is not licensed for redistribution and cannot be lawfully redistributed on eBay.  NFR software often displays a sticker on the retail box that states “Not For Resale” or “NFR.”  The letters “NFR” are typically displayed also on the retail box top bar code sticker following the indication of the software title and in the title phrase of the End User License Agreement (“EULA”).

Pre-installed Software

Any PC system that includes installed Microsoft software, must be accompanied by a complete licensed software package for each installed program, including the program disc and Certificate of Authenticity and, for certain software, a user manual and printed copy of the End User License Agreement.  Vendors may not pre-install Microsoft software based on a customer’s representation that the customer owns a license.

MSDN and TechNet Subscriptions

Microsoft Software Developer Network (MSDN) and TechNet Subscriptions are monthly installments in which developers may receive sample applications, books and periodicals, tools and utilities, miscellaneous technical information, operating systems, development toolkits, server applications, and development tools.  Such software may be transferred only if it is transferred along with all components, updates, media, printed materials, upgrades, and the End User License Agreement (“EULA”) obtained during the course of the subscription and if the recipient agrees to the terms of the EULA.  The components received are licensed only to the user and are not licensed for individual transfer.  If you transfer your subscription, you must notify Microsoft of your name, company, and address and the name, company, and address of the person to whom you are transferring the subscription.


Information for Buyers

Much of the Microsoft software available over the Internet is counterfeit or otherwise unauthorized.  Consumers who purchase such software have no right to use or redistribute the software that they receive, and may have no access to technical support or product upgrades.  Such software can also put at risk the integrity of their computer systems.

When shopping for Microsoft software online, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you get genuine licensed Microsoft software.

  • Microsoft software must include a program disk and a Certificate of Authenticity and, for some software, a user manual and printed copy of the End User License Agreement.  Make sure that you are getting all required components when you shop for software.

  • OEM software must be distributed with PC systems.  OEM software that bears the name of a large computer manufacturer (e.g. Dell or Compaq) can be redistributed only with the same computer with which the software was originally distributed.

  • Avoid software that is marked “Not for Resale”, “NFR”, “Promotional”, “Worldwide Fulfillment” or “WWF”.  Such software is not authorized for retail distribution and may not lawfully be redistributed.

  • If the price for the software seems “too good to be true,” it probably is.  As a guide, check the offer against the recommended or estimated retail price.  Be wary of distributors that offer unusual explanations for suspiciously low-priced software.  These include references to special deals, liquidated inventories, or acquisitions through bankruptcy sales.  Counterfeiters often use these types of phrases to fool consumers into believing that they are getting genuine software that was overstocked or otherwise deserves to be discounted.

  • When you get the software, examine it to see if it appears genuine.  You may wish to visit the Microsoft web site for a description of the characteristics of genuine Microsoft software at www.howtotell.com/uk.  If the program disk or other components appear to be of inferior quality you should contact Microsoft or return the software to the seller for a full refund.


The Unauthorized Distribution and Use of Software Hurts Everyone.

The unauthorized distribution and use of software hurts everyone.  In the UK, 27 percent of software is unlicensed.  The distribution of unauthorized software puts honest software resellers on an uneven playing field, often undersold by competitors who use illegal products as a price weapon.


For More Information . . .

If you have a question about an auction that you have seen or that you would like to list on eBay, please contact msverouk@microsoft.com.

If you have questions about the legitimacy of Microsoft products you can send an e-mail to ukpiracy@microsoft.com.  For more information about the distribution of counterfeit and other unauthorized software on the Internet visit www.microsoft.com/piracy/uk.

Additional information can also be obtained at the Business Software Alliance website at www.bsa.org/uk.