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MS opens free piracy hotline to squeal on rivals

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Microsoft has started a free hotline for resellers to secretly squeal on suspected software pirates. The 0800 number has four full-time Microsoft lackeys beavering away at combating software fraud. All leads will be pumped into a central European database in the hope of cross referencing information to combat international organised crime. "If you want to report piracy, you want anonymity, and you can ring this number in confidence," said Julia Phillpot, Microsoft anti-piracy manager. Launched this month, the hotline has so far attracted a mixture of end-users - keen to check that goods they have bought are legal, and resellers - wishing to inform on suspected illegal goings-on at a competitor. "The idea is to provide a better service to customers and channel partners, and give a more structured approach to investigating and reporting piracy," said Phillpot. The Web is one of the fastest growing areas of software counterfeiting, according to Phillpot. "The Internet offers ease of distribution. But we are having a very high success rate in getting sites taken down. If we call the ISP and explain what is going on, they normally want to take the site down immediately." Microsoft is to send out its anti-piracy hotline number in 7,000 brochures to the channel, but has no definite plans for an advertising campaign. Phillpot remained cagey about the software giant's idea to harness British TV soap operas to put across the anti-piracy message, revealed here earlier this month. She said she had been "too busy doing other things" to develop the plan further. ® Suspected software crimes can be reported on 0800 013 2222. Related stories Microsoft takes UK TV soap offensive Fishy pirate gets caught in Net Microsoft piracy buster trashes software and reputation

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