Every year thousands of pounds worth of illegal software is sold in the UK at car boot sales, markets, by mail order and from other outlets by unscrupulous traders. This software has been illegally copied without the approval of the game developers, manufacturers or distributors and comes with no money back guarantee, instruction manuals or packaging. The only attraction is that it is cheap − often only a fraction of the cost of the genuine item.

Why it’s wrong


The success of the computer games industry has made it a prime target for criminals. It is estimated that more than £3 billion is lost every year by the UK industry to software pirates, which results in lost jobs and lost development opportunities, both locally and nationally.

Consumers have no recourse under law for faulty pirated goods. Pirated goods are often mixed with obscene material. There are proven links between many pirate organisations and dealers in drugs and pornography. Sales of pirate software are often used by terrorist organisations to fund terrorist activities.

Pirates sometimes try to justify their activities by claiming that paying the full price for a genuine game is a rip-off and lines the pockets of the fat cats with your money. This is simply not true.

There are several issues here:

  • It costs a great deal of money and effort to make a flight simulation in the first place. This includes rewarding the programmers and artists whose creativity contributes so much to the products we all enjoy.
  • A pirate simply pays a few pence for a gold disc, places it into a CD writer, clicks the Record button, and makes over £4.00 profit PER SALE for his efforts. This is often more profit than the publishers and developers make from the sale of an original title.
  • The people who really suffer from game piracy are the artists, programmers and other committed development staff. Piracy directly affects these people and their families. Loss of revenue to the games industry through piracy means many are losing their jobs due to cut-backs that have to be made to ensure developers and publishers survive.
  • Some of the most highly regarded, hard-working and creative people in the UK are losing their jobs while the pirates line their own pockets with your money. Where's the justice in that?
  • It's not just copying software that is against the law; owning copied software also constitutes a criminal offence, so anyone buying from software pirates is also at risk of arrest and prosecution.
  • This is in addition to the risk that the pirate product will be of inferior quality to the official release and often contain mechanisms that degrade its performance.



The ELSPA Crime Unit was established in 1994 to safeguard the intellectual property rights of members' products. The ELSPA Crime Unit:

  • Responds to information about illegal software received from members, consumers, the retail trade and other enforcement agencies.
  • Conducts investigations against alleged offenders.
  • Routinely makes test purchases from alleged offenders.
  • Regularly visits car boot sales and markets to monitor product being sold.
  • Executes warrants at offenders' premises.
  • Seizes infringing product.
  • Assists enforcement agencies such as Trading Standards Officers and Police authorities in investigating software piracy.
  • Maintains close liaison with Customs and Excise over the importation of illegal software.
  • Takes legal action against those found copying and selling illegal software.
  • Attends trade shows and conferences to speak to consumers and traders.
  • Operates a 24-hour confidential hotline for anyone wishing to give information about software pirates.



Piracy always leads to arrests, community service, hefty fines and prison sentences.

Legislation is provided to prosecute pirates and counterfeiters under the following acts:

  • The Copyrights Designs and Patents Act of 1988
  • The Trade Marks Act of 1994
  • The Trade Descriptions Act of 1968
  • The Computer Misuse Act of 1990
  • The Forgery Act of 1981
  • The Theft Act of 1968

Reporting piracy


If you require information on software piracy, call The Crime Unit Hotline on 0870 5133405. All information will be treated in the strictest confidence and there’s a 24-hour answering service available.

If you want to report any piracy involving Just Flight or Just Trains products, please send us an email.

For more information on ELSPA, visit their website.