Monday, September 13, 2010

Microsoft: Anti-Piracy Enforcement and NGOs

Via The Official Microsoft Blog -

A story in yesterday’s New York Times reports on anti-piracy enforcement actions in Russia that have been used for more nefarious purposes than protecting intellectual property rights.

As General Counsel for Microsoft, it was not the type of story that felt good to read. It described instances in which authorities had used piracy charges concerning Microsoft software to confiscate computers and harass non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others engaged in public advocacy. It suggested that there had been cases when our own counsel at law firms had failed to help clear things up and had made matters worse instead.

Whatever the circumstances of the particular cases the New York Times described, we want to be clear that we unequivocally abhor any attempt to leverage intellectual property rights to stifle political advocacy or pursue improper personal gain. We are moving swiftly to seek to remove any incentive or ability to engage in such behavior.


Our first step is clear-cut. We must accept responsibility and assume accountability for our anti-piracy work, including the good and the bad. At this point some of the specific facts are less clear than we would like. We will retain an international law firm that has not been involved in the anti-piracy work to conduct an independent investigation, report on its conclusions, and advise us of new measures we should take.


Ultimately, our goals are straightforward. We aim to reduce the piracy and counterfeiting of software, and we aim to do this in a manner that respects fundamental human rights. Piracy is a very real problem. It costs jobs and business growth and can cheat consumers who think they’re paying for genuine products. We know for a fact that the reduction of software piracy has breathed new life into Russia’s own software industry and has created new jobs in our industry, both at Russian software companies and for U.S. software exporters. But none of this should create a pretext for the inappropriate pursuit of NGOs, newspapers, or other participants in civil society. And we certainly don’t want to contribute to any such effort, even inadvertently.

At the end of the day, it’s clear that we have a responsibility to take new steps to address this situation, working in partnership with the various stakeholders concerned about this issue. The steps described above should start to move us in that direction. If needed, we will take further steps to ensure that they are effective.


Russia Uses Microsoft to Suppress Dissent

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