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Someone asked a question about installing a software program that was clearly illegally procured. Yet I hesitate to flag the question as off-topic: there is, as far as I can see, no explicit rule against the unauthorized use of software. Or is there? I searched around for precedents, but could only find this answer, which seemed a bit opinion-based and did not really reach a consensus.

  • Looks like that question reached a pretty strong consensus to me. – Seth Mar 23 '15 at 13:26
  • Well- quoting from the accepted answer: "If someone likes to answer, I guess it would be OK" and "So you decide", followed by a disclaimer. The next two answers also include "But"s and "However"s, allowing for various exceptions and loopholes. So no, however useful the discussion may be, I wouldn't call that a consensus. – Jos Mar 23 '15 at 13:34
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The SE content policy sort of partly covers this by simply forbidding:

Illegal Use. Stack Exchange may not be used for illegal purposes.

You could probably argue back and forth whether helping somebody break the law is illegal or not but while we're talking generically, if they're doing something scummy, why would you want to help them?

We don't have a solid line on a lot of things and I'd suggest this is one of those. If they're asking how to install cracked games, shunt them on but if they have a genuine need to use a dodgy version of something (does happen) or the piracy isn't relevant, I'd advise a more lenient approach.

If it's a process that also has legitimate purposes (eg mounting an ISO to install something), we probably have duplicate targets but if not, you might be able to alter the question to remove anything illicit without damaging the overall meaning... And still solve a problem for them and other people in the same situation.


Just found an ancient Q/A on MSE which links out to this bit in the main terms and conditions:

Subscriber represents, warrants and agrees that it will not contribute any Subscriber Content that [..] (c) infringes any intellectual property right of another or the privacy or publicity rights of another

The implication being that questions like "How do I crack this?" could only be answered by something that broke the law and therefore be a question worth nuking...

But again, I'd advise limiting that approach to when people are asking for help breaking the law. If it's irrelevant, ignore it or edit it out.


TL;DR: Nobody knows. Do what makes you feel happiest.

  • Thanks for clearing this up! – Jos Mar 23 '15 at 18:27

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