Microsoft Corp. has announced Global Anti-Piracy Day, a simultaneous launch of education initiatives and enforcement actions in 49 countries on six continents to combat the sophisticated, illegal trade of pirated and counterfeit software. The programs announced yesterday include intellectual property awareness campaigns, engagements with partner businesses, educational forums, local law enforcement training, and new legal actions against alleged software counterfeiters and pirates.
Microsoft is taking these steps as part of its commitment to working with communities, national governments and local law enforcement agencies around the world to help protect its customers and partners and promote the value of intellectual property as a driver of innovation.
“Software piracy and counterfeiting is a sophisticated, global trade with a damaging impact on consumers, businesses and economies, and Microsoft is committed to working with others around the world to stay a step ahead of this illegal industry,” said David Finn, associate general counsel for Worldwide Anti-Piracy and Anti-Counterfeiting at Microsoft. “In partnership with national governments, local law enforcement agencies, and our customer and partner communities, Microsoft is driving anti-piracy efforts across countries and continents through an equally sophisticated system of business intelligence, forensics and education. Together, we are working to identify international connection points between software pirates and counterfeiters, to help stop them in their tracks and protect consumers and legitimate businesses from this illegal trade.”
“The global trade in fakes threatens consumers, businesses and the economy,” said Guy Sebban, secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce. “It will only be possible to halt counterfeiting and piracy on a global scale through this kind of collaboration between governments and the private sector — both to educate people about the value of intellectual property and to take action against trade in illicit products.”
Global Anti-Piracy Day provides a 24-hour snapshot of the range of education initiatives and legal actions that take place on an ongoing basis in local markets around the world. For example, Microsoft today announced that it had partnered with the American Chamber of Commerce in Brazil to launch a new blog to raise awareness among educators about the importance of teaching young people about innovation and the high cost of piracy. In Turkey, Microsoft announced it is providing the country’s Ministry of Justice with training sessions on cyber crimes and their impact and has launched a Get Genuine campaign to teach customers how to confirm that their Microsoft software is genuine. In addition, Microsoft commended the Chinese government for its recent sentencing of two illegal operators found guilty of manipulating the Microsoft Open License program and selling unlicensed software to unsuspecting customers. In Italy, Microsoft began an employee anti-piracy ambassador program to educate family and friends through informal social networks. And in the United States, Microsoft took action to protect its customers and partners by filing 20 civil lawsuits in federal court in nine states against resellers alleged to be selling computers with preloaded unlicensed and/or counterfeit Microsoft Windows XP Professional and multiple versions of Microsoft Office software. There are many more initiatives announced today summarized in the attached fact sheet.
A Shared Threat, a Shared Response
More than one third of PCs globally contain unlicensed, pirated or counterfeit software. The losses inflicted on legitimate businesses by widespread software piracy are significant. In 2007, the global economic loss was estimated at nearly $50 billion.* As technological advances expand opportunities for criminal syndicates to manufacture and distribute fakes, it is clear that piracy and counterfeiting pose a real and growing threat to intellectual property and innovation. By addressing this illegal activity, Microsoft is helping to level the playing field for legitimate dealers who are harmed when illegal sales cut into their business, and ensure that consumers receive the full value of licensed, genuine Microsoft products.
“There is growing evidence that highly organized, transnational criminal organizations and networks are involved in the counterfeiting of software and other goods. This is a global problem with global sources of supply; this is why we need to work together — the public and the private sectors — to stop this trade,” said John Newton of the Intellectual Property Rights Project, Financial and High-Tech Crime Subdirectorate, INTERPOL General Secretariat. “To that end, Microsoft and INTERPOL are now cooperating with police and customs agencies around the world to use all available intelligence to ensure that our joint investigations lead to arrests and convictions of criminal counterfeiters.”
Microsoft is concerned not only about the continued negative impact on economies and legitimate businesses, but the risk to consumers, as well. Counterfeit software exposes consumers to an increased risk of viruses, worms and other damaging code including spyware and Trojan horses. Customers expect to receive genuine, high-quality software, but counterfeit copies often contain malicious code and/or malware and fail to operate properly. This, in turn, can present a significant risk of security breaches and lost business data, damaged reputation, and the need to invest thousands of dollars to recover from incidents of malicious software on individual workstations. Microsoft’s Genuine Software Initiative is aimed at helping businesses and consumers understand and avoid the risks of using counterfeit software. For example, online validation tools for Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office make it easy for customers to quickly verify whether their software is genuine. Should the software end up being counterfeit, customers are provided with information on what they can do to secure a legitimate copy of the software.