Feeds

MS lobbies senate to lean on Europe, WTO

Concerned about piracy control and tax mitigation, apparently...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

It's becoming clearer what Microsoft and other major software developers want to achieve at the World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in Seattle next month (related story). We now have the text of the presentation by Eric Koenig, Microsoft's senior federal government affairs manager, to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations' subcommittee on European Affairs. Koenig spoke on behalf of Microsoft, and the BSA. He wanted the Senate subcommittee to persuade the EU to take a joint stance on the negotiations, especially with respect to e-commerce. Koenig is also co-chair of the WTO Seattle host committee. Strangely, he claimed that "More than 50 per cent of the revenues of ... Microsoft are generated by overseas sales". Yet in its 1999 Annual Report, Microsoft stated that US revenue is $13.7 billion (including OEM sales) and that non-US revenue is just $6 billion, with European sales amounting to a quarter of Microsoft's world revenue. Horses for courses, it would seem. Koenig then came to the nub of the matter: he wanted a favourable e-commerce regime. The WTO would need to become "more open, more transparent", presumably to make it easier for non-governmental organisations (like Microsoft acting through the BSA) to organise intensive lobbying for its own interests. Another Microsoft desire was to ensure that e-commerce is classified as goods, and not just a set of services. Here's the reason: 94 per cent of the world's exports of software are US sourced, and classifying software as a service could alter the tax regime, dramatically impacting software sales. The concern is that at present the EU takes the position that physically-delivered software is classified as a "good" by GATT, but the same software delivered electronically should be classified as an "electronic delivery", subject just to GATT obligations on trade in services. However, the WTO decided last year that there would be no customs duties on electronic transmissions, which is consistent. Microsoft's concern was that instead of assessing duties on the value of the medium, like the CD-ROM, duty would be on the value of the product - orders of magnitude higher, of course. Last week, the BSA mailed propaganda to members of the European Commission (probably a waste of time as they're all on getting-to-know-you junkets at the moment); the European Parliament (they're learning how to optimise their expenses); and heads of member states (who are unlikely to do anything about the BSA's concerns). Specifically, the BSA wants the EU to deny accession to EU candidate countries that have high piracy rates, and for public institutions in Europe to prohibit illegal software in their institutions. This is unlikley to influence Prodi's expansionist desires. There's a great deal at stake for US software companies so far as the WTO meeting in Seattle is concerned, and it will be interesting to see how successful Microsoft is on the diplomatic front. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich
New 'Atlas of ICT Activity' finds innovation isn't happening at Silicon Roundabout
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.