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WinRAR is one of the most recognizable pieces of software in history and one that's effectively free to use, forever. Nevertheless, the company behind the product still has to deal with infringement, something that was highlighted in a complaint filed against a keygen creator this week. That said, WinRAR informs TorrentFreak that no one should really need to use a pirated copy of its software.

There’s a high probability that most people reading this article will be familiar with the image on the right. That’s because in computing terms, data compression tool WinRAR has been around for what seems like forever. Indeed, with its 25th birthday coming up next April, WinRAR launched before many of its users were even born. Nevertheless, it has stood the tests of time and according to the latest estimates, now has around 500 million users. Indeed, the company told us this week that WinRAR is the third most installed software in the world behind Chrome and Acrobat Reader. The reason for that, at least in part, is the company’s liberal business model.

Perhaps the most curious thing about this ubiquitous tool is that while WinRAR gives the impression of being free, technically it is paid software. Users get a 40-day period to trial the tool and then, if they like it, they can part with cash in order to obtain a license. However, WinRAR never times out and relies completely on users’ inclination to pay for something that doesn’t need to be paid for to retain functionality. As a result, WinRAR has huge numbers of pirate users yet the company does pretty much nothing to stop them. Those who do pay for a license get rid of a ‘nag’ screen and gain a couple of features that most people don’t need. But for pirates (and the tool is massively popular with pirates), an unlicensed WinRAR still does what it’s supposed to, i.e unpacking all those pesky compressed pirate releases. Of course, there are people out there who would still rather not pay a penny to use a piece of software that is essentially free to use. So, in order to obtain a ‘license’ and get rid of the nag screen, they use a piece of software called a ‘keygen’ that generates one for them. The company behind WinRAR doesn’t seem to care too much about casual piracy but it is bothered about keygens.