Microsoft is chasing down software pirates


TrainableMan

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The arrival of organized criminal syndicates to the software piracy scene has escalated worries at companies like Microsoft, Symantec and Adobe. Groups in China, South America and Eastern Europe appear to have supply chains and sales networks rivaling those of legitimate businesses, says David Finn, Microsoft’s anti-piracy chief. Sometimes they sell exact copies of products, but often peddle tainted software that opens the door to other electronic crime. “As long as intellectual property is the lifeblood of this company, we have to go protect it,” Mr. Finn says.

Microsoft has adopted a hard-line stance against counterfeiting. It has set up a sophisticated anti-piracy operation that dwarfs those of other software makers; the staff includes dozens of former government intelligence agents from the United States, Europe and Asia, who use a host of “CSI”-like forensic technology tools for finding and convicting criminals.

But the hunt for pirates carries with it a cost to Microsoft’s reputation.

The company’s profit from Windows and Office remains the envy of the technology industry, and critics contend that Microsoft simply charges too much for them. In countries like India, where Microsoft encourages local police officers to conduct raids, the company can come off as a bully willing to go after its own business partners if they occasionally peddle counterfeit software to people who struggle to afford the real thing.

“It is better for the Indian government to focus on educating its children rather than making sure royalties go back to Microsoft,” says Eben Moglen, a law professor at Columbia Law School and a leading advocate of free software.

Mr. Finn argues that Microsoft has no choice but to be aggressive in its fight, saying its immense network of resellers and partners can’t make a living in areas flush with counterfeit software. He says consumers and businesses are being coaxed into buying counterfeit products that either don’t work or do serious harm by clearing the way for various types of electronic fraud.

And, crucially, the counterfeit software cuts into Microsoft’s potential profit. A software industry trade group estimated the value of unlicensed software for all companies at $51.4 billion last year.

The most vociferous critics of Microsoft and the overall proprietary software industry describe the anti-piracy crusade as a sophisticated dog-and-pony show. They say the software makers tolerate a certain level of piracy because they would rather have people use their products — even if counterfeit — than pick up lower-cost alternatives. At the same time, the critics say, the software companies conduct periodic raids to remind customers and partners that playing by the rules makes sense.

“It has always been in Microsoft’s interests for software to be available at two different prices — expensive for the people that can afford it and inexpensive for those that can’t,” Mr. Moglen says. “At the end of the day, if you’re a monopolist, you have to tolerate a large number of copies you don’t get paid for just to keep everyone hooked.”

Microsoft has demonstrated a rare ability to elicit the cooperation of law enforcement officials to go after software counterfeiters and to secure convictions — not only in India and Mexico, but also in China, Brazil, Colombia, Belize and Russia. Countries like Malaysia, Chile and Peru have set up intellectual-property protection squads that rely on Microsoft’s training and expertise to deal with software cases.

...

Through an artificial intelligence system, Microsoft scans the Web for suspicious, popular links and then sends takedown requests to Web service providers, providing evidence of questionable activity. “The Web sites look professional,” he says. “And some of them even offer customer support through call centers in India.”

The counterfeiters, however, have automated systems that replace links that Microsoft deep-sixes. So the company has turned up the dial on its link-removal machine.

“We used to remove 10,000 links a month,” Mr. Anaman says. “Now, we’re removing 800,000 links a month.”

He describes the groups behind these sites as “part of the dark Web,” saying they have links to huge spam, virus and fraud networks. Microsoft’s tests of software on some popular sites have shown that 35 percent of the counterfeit software contained harmful code.


Read the entire article here
 
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Core

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Microsoft has demonstrated a rare ability to elicit the cooperation of law enforcement officials to go after software counterfeiters and to secure convictions — not only in India and Mexico, but also in China, Brazil, Colombia, Belize and Russia.
LOL. I wonder what the wealthiest corporation in the world could possibly do to grease the squeaky wheels of justice in those particular countries....
 
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LOL. I wonder what the wealthiest corporation in the world could possibly do to grease the squeaky wheels of justice in those particular countries....
Looking at it from this view, I see a huge payment in the works. This is sad that one must spend money to help stop loosing money.

Thats the way it is though because we as a people have decided to slap each others hands instead of actually putting a stop to the way things are.
 

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