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Right of Reply: MS says stealing is wrong

Anti-piracy manager Julia Phillpot speaks

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Further to an article by Graham Lea entitled Microsoft piracy losses claims don’t stack up’ appearing on The Register on 19 October, 1999, I wish to draw your attention to a number of points in response to the accusations directed at Microsoft, namely "trying to scare consumers, businesses, governments and institutions into having licensed software". The anti-piracy message on our Web site that Mr Lea refers to does not refer simply to a Microsoft issue but to an industry wide concern. Other organisations care just as deeply about the rightful protection of licensed software and the figures used are in line with figures provided by several other parties. Although Microsoft runs a number of global campaigns to highlight the piracy issue, these are in fact just one part of our marketing activity through which we are trying to educate our various audiences as to the seriousness of software piracy. Even today many people do not realise that they are committing a civil or criminal act when using illegal software. To educate them includes, amongst other things, clearly stating the consequences that software piracy is having on businesses and the general public. Mr. Lea may view our actions in condemning software piracy as being purely driven by financial concerns. However, our business and that of every software company is completely dependent on the protection of the intellectual property rights. Without this fundamental protection, the software side of the IT industry simply wouldn’t evolve. Software vendors of all sizes have to invest large amounts of money in research and development. In a highly competitive industry, such a commitment is vital in every sense of the word. The goal of anti-piracy campaigning is intended to help keep this industry as strong and vibrant as possible. We therefore have to question Mr. Lea’s logic in finding fault with this approach. International Planning & Research (IPR) should be directly questioned as to the validity of their estimates and Mr. Lea should not just attempt to discredit Microsoft because he does not accept these figures. If anything, the figures questioned by Mr. Lea are more likely to be an understatement as to the extent of software piracy, rather than an inflation of the issue. Finally, if Mr. Lea believes that Microsoft could be doing a better job at fighting piracy, we would be delighted to hear his views on the subject and welcome any constructive suggestions. Tackling software piracy is a delicate issue and we would like to think that we have been considerate and tactful in dealing with its distasteful criminal effects. I hope this clarifies our position with regards to Mr. Lea’s article. The theft of software is a criminal offence and this is a position taken by the majority of governments across the world. ® Well, what do you think? Email us here.

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