, penalty takes place once the download started, if the source is flagged illegal, not according to the material. I could be wrong.
I mean online piracy not just piracy. Activation alone can be done from other sources than online.
I downloaded my softcopy from MS directly. Links were available for Win7, but not for Vista as my search returned. My legit key was used without needing to activate online. Updates work just fine.
OP: you can also borrow an identical version of windows from anyone, but make sure you do not use their key.