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Microsoft helps nab $900m piracy ring PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 10 February 2008

Associated Press . Seattle

Near-perfect knockoffs of 21 different Microsoft programmes began surfacing around the world just over a decade ago. Soon, PCs in more than a dozen countries were running illegal copies of Windows and Office, turning unwitting consumers into criminals and, Microsoft says, exposing them to increased risk of malicious viruses and spyware.

The case began to turn in 2001 when US Customs officers seized a shipping container in Los Angeles filled with $100 million in fake software, including 31,000 copies of the Windows operating system.

From there, Microsoft pushed the investigation through 22 countries. Local law enforcement officials seized software, equipment and records, and made arrests.

A court in Taiwan handed down the last of the major sentences in December. Microsoft estimates the retail value of the software the operation generated at $900 million.

That is a tremendous accomplishment, said James Spertus, a former federal prosecutor in Los Angeles who later led anti-piracy efforts for the Motion Picture Association of America.

There are only going to be a few cases like this a decade.Now Microsoft is eager to talk about the experience because taking down that operation responsible for about 90 per cent of the fake software the company found between 1999 and 2004, more than 470,000 disks didnt actually stop piracy. It just left room for more counterfeiters to rise.

Microsoft hopes would-be pirates will think twice if they know how far it will go to protect the computer code worth billions in revenue each quarter.

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