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Software Pirates Get Hard Time in China

Chinese sellers of counterfeit Microsoft software, arrested in China in 2007, were sentenced to jail terms ranging between 1.5 years and 6.5 years, according to a Microsoft statement issued on New Year's Eve.

Eleven people sold more than $2 billion worth of "high-quality" counterfeit Microsoft software, according to the announcement. The operation was based in Guangdong, a province in the south of China, with bootleg software distribution to more than 36 countries.

The case involved a collaboration between China's Public Security Bureau and the U.S. FBI.

According to an IDC report, "The Economic Benefits of Reducing PC Software Piracy," a 10 percent decrease in software piracy globally could create "hundreds of thousands of new jobs, billions in information technology spending" plus generate economic growth and tax revenues for "high-piracy emerging economies."

A 10 percent decrease in software piracy in the United States would create 32,000 new jobs, $6.5 billion in tax revenue and $41 billion in economic growth, according to January statement from IDC.

"When countries take steps to reduce software piracy, everyone benefits," stated Robert Holleyman, president and CEO of Business Software Alliance (BSA), in Microsoft's announcement.

The effort in China was aided by Microsoft's customers and partners who provided information through Microsoft's Genuine Software Initiative, an information portal and report-filing resource.

The 11 convicted software pirates received the longest sentences China has handed down for this type of crime, according to Microsoft.

In an unrelated case, an American student convicted of selling more than $2.5 million in counterfeit software was sentenced in December to three years in federal prison and a $10,000 fine by a federal judge in Austin, Texas.

In 2004, the BSA estimated that approximately 35 percent of software used around the world was counterfeit. (Access to a revised 2008 report was not available at press time.)

About the Author

Herb Torrens is an award-winning freelance writer based in Southern California. He managed the MCSP program for a leading computer telephony integrator for more than five years and has worked with numerous solution providers including HP/Compaq, Nortel, and Microsoft in all forms of media.

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