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More Software Piracy Busts

Microsoft's full-time effort to harry software counterfeiters netted a few more legal actions this week. Eight software dealers in four countries -- the United States, Canada, Egypt and the Netherlands -- attracted legal actions either by Microsoft or by local authorities.

"One of the reasons that we're taking these actions is that we received over 400 complaints over our 1-800-RU-LEGIT hotline," said Bonnie MacNaughton, senior attorney and North American regional lead on the Microsoft Worldwide Anti-Piracy Enforcement Team.

North American customers were suspicious when they installed their software and saw notifications that the software was licensed for users in the Middle East only, or licensed for students and academic institutions only, MacNaughton said.

The software with the Middle Eastern notification arose from a PC program in Egypt called the PC Initiative. The program is designed to provide low-cost software to Egyptian citizens. Instead, according to Microsoft, the dealer supplied Egyptians with counterfeit software and exported the actual software to the lucrative U.S. market, where it was presented as legitimate. Egyptian authorities raided a source of the unlicensed software on April 30, according to Microsoft.

Other programs exploited by software dealers were the Volume Licensing program, where dealers allegedly stole product keys and even peeled Certificates of Authenticity off of computers, and the program discounting software for students and academic institutions.

In addition, Microsoft built on settlements in previous lawsuits against software dealers in the United States to trace the source of their software to a firm in the Netherlands.

"Microsoft has alleged that HW Trading BV and its principal, Samir Abdalla, received more than $3.7 million from just three dealers in the U.S. between March 2006 and March 2007 in payment, in whole or in part, for unlicensed software," Microsoft said in a statement.

Posted by Scott Bekker on May 08, 2008


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