Prodding by Microsoft and other software companies have seen efforts beefed up against software piracy in recent months. During the past six months, police or corporate lawyers have moved against alleged software pirates in 20 countries, according to the
Wall Street Journal
“The motivation for Microsoft, by far the biggest victim of software piracy, is clear: During the past year, about five million units of Microsoft’s products, valued at about $1.7 billion, were seized,” the newspaper reports. “Other companies pushing for more aggressive international action include Adobe Systems Inc., Autodesk Inc. and Corel Corp.”
Raids against software pirates have been successful in Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, the Philippines, the People’s Republic of China, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Romania, Hungary, Germany, Poland, Canada and the U.S. How bad is the piracy situation? Police found a cache of 2,165 copies of Microsoft programs and four compact-disk duplicating machines in Brazil on Feb. 13.
“To combat such piracy, Microsoft recently entered into a formal partnership with the U.S. Customs Service to exchange information on intellectual-property crimes around the world,” said the
Wall Street Journal
. “The agency has similar partnerships with other companies and trade associations, including Underwriters Laboratories and the Motion Picture Association of America.”
Microsoft also has aggressively recruited its own security force of former government agents led by Richard LaMagna, a 27-year veteran of the Drug Enforcement Administration. During the past six months, Microsoft officials say, the company has taken legal action against 47,000 dubious or illegal postings on the Internet offering its products.
The Customs Service, through its network of attaches around the world, helps Microsoft and other companies work with foreign police agencies. The Federal Bureau of Investigation last year inaugurated a new Intellectual Property Rights Center in Washington to serve as a command center for operations against copyright violators.
The stepped-up anti-piracy efforts reflect new concern about an old problem for software makers, according to the article. “As we’ve seen organized criminal enterprises focusing on counterfeiting and taking it to the Internet, it is becoming an even more important problem for the industry and the company,” Microsoft Deputy General Counsel Brad Smith told the newspaper.