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Microsoft Steps Up Software Piracy Enforcement

Microsoft Steps Up Software Piracy Enforcement

Settles five legal actions and announces significant public response Community benefits following successful legal action

Auckland, New Zealand - Thursday 19 August, 1999 - Microsoft today announced a number of tactical wins in the battle to protect intellectual property against software piracy.

In a flood of enforcement activity the company has settled five cases against traders of counterfeit software and businesses that use unlicensed software. In addition, there are twenty investigations and seventeen legal actions in progress, including piracy on the Internet and trans-Tasman actions against second hand dealers.

In two separate actions, the New Zealand Customs Service last week seized a number of copies of Office 2000 software and hundreds of Microsoft Mice worth tens of thousands of dollars.

"These cases, in total, represent the culmination of many hundreds of hours of activity on the part of a number of organisations," said Microsoft Corporation's Corporate Attorney for South Asia Pacific, Ron Eckstrom. "They also give some idea of the magnitude of the problem."

"The assistance from the Customs Service has been instrumental in combating piracy and encouraging an environment where intellectual property is protected. In the past year customs seizures of Microsoft product have doubled," Eckstrom added.

Software piracy undermines the knowledge economy "Halting the brain drain and fostering innovation is key to the success of the software industry as it is to developing a flourishing knowledge economy," said Geoff Lawrie, Managing Director, Microsoft New Zealand. "A major obstacle confronting the software industry, one of the fastest growing sectors in the world, is piracy. That concern still applies strongly in New Zealand today. Providing adequate protection for intellectual property must be a cornerstone of any knowledge economy."

According to Mr Lawrie protecting and respecting intellectual property is a growing priority for Microsoft. "Fighting software piracy is not only a question of countering an illegal activity, but also of countering its negative effects on the economy, business, the community and individuals," he said. "And it is by no means a victimless crime. It hurts the economy. It hurts the honest dealer and distributor. And it stifles the local software development community."

Recommendations to government were announced last week for better protection of intellectual property rights in New Zealand, following a report commissioned by the Ministry of Commerce. The recommendations include increasing penalties, including new criminal remedies, and establishing the government's growing commitment to encourage innovation and protect intellectual property rights.

Public disapproval of piracy grows Active public disapproval of piracy is growing. The level of public support for the drive against software piracy is reflected in the significant increase of reports to Microsoft's Anti-Piracy Hotline (0800 PIRACY). Total calls have doubled in the last year to a total of over 1500. Further, enforcement leads against businesses copying software without the correct number of licenses has also doubled to nearly 80, while reports of piracy in the distribution channel have tripled to nearly 200 leads.

Successful settlements deliver community benefits As a result of a significant settlement, the Microsoft Foundation Campaign today announced that it has donated software valued at $100,000 to the McKenzie Trust and the Development Resource Centre (DRC) of New Zealand. The Microsoft Foundation campaign will donate net proceeds of all anti-piracy enforcement actions being back into the local community in the form of technology and expertise.

The donations will be specifically used to support the education of children and those who would not normally have access to software, including Microsoft® Windows 98, and Microsoft® Office 2000 software. "The sponsorship from Microsoft is a huge boost for our organisation, enabling us to put additional resources into our education and information activities, as well as being up-to-date with essential software," says Jonquil Brooks, Director of the DRC. "The sponsorship has also assisted us with Y2K compliance."

The Microsoft Foundation Campaign is expected donate another $100,000 this financial year, based on proceeds generated from settlements originating from hotline reports.

"As Microsoft increases its level of enforcement against software piracy, we are encouraging concerned software users to report dealers who are trading in illegal software and businesses who are involved in the unauthorised copying of software. The Microsoft Anti-Piracy Hotline 0800 PIRACY (0800 747 229) has been established to receive these reports," Eckstrom said.

# # # # # # #

Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft is either a registered trademark or a trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries. Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

-ENDS-


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