Microsoft Files Software Piracy Lawsuits on Behalf of Customers And Resellers in Ohio
Recognizing Warning Signs Is Key to Avoiding Harmful Effects of Piracy
REDMOND, Wash. - April 26, 1999 - Microsoft Corp. officials today announced that the company has filed lawsuits against 10 resellers in Ohio for allegedly distributing counterfeit software. The lawsuits are intended to protect the region's legitimate distributors and customers from the negative effects of software piracy and to lessen the impact of software piracy on Ohio's economy, which has already lost more than $440 million in combined wages, tax revenues and retail sales and more than 6,000 jobs as a result of piracy.
"When nearly one in every three copies of software on Ohio's computers is illegal, it is obvious that software pirates are swallowing a big chunk of business that rightfully belongs to software distributors who play by the book," said John Cassiday, account executive at Softwarehouse International in Cleveland. "I'm glad that Microsoft is continuing its anti-piracy efforts in the area to ease the dangerous impact of software piracy to our business."
"We lose a significant amount of business to dishonest solution providers that dodge legal and ethical means of acquiring software," said Karen Hamilton, account manager at Corporate Sales Microcenter, a business consulting firm specializing in enterprise-level IT
solutions with offices in Columbus and throughout the Great Lakes region. "We see the lawsuits announced today as a positive step toward protecting businesses that obey the law, as well as preserving a healthy local technology industry that will ultimately benefit the community."
The lawsuits all allege that the defendants distributed counterfeit copies of Microsoft® software to undercover investigators. Four of the cases also allege hard disk loading, the practice of loading unauthorized copies of Microsoft software onto the hard drives of computers they sell.
Most investigations are initiated by tips called in to the Microsoft anti-piracy hot line by customers or other resellers who have obtained suspicious products. Microsoft customarily notifies the companies that it suspects them of acting illegally and then determines whether the behavior has continued before filing a lawsuit. The complaints are as follows:
All suits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, except for the complaints against Data Transfer and Explorer Micro Inc. and Computer Pro, which were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
"Software piracy exposes unsuspecting customers to software that may contain harmful viruses and lack important documentation," said Tricia Boyle, account manager at Softmart Inc. "More than ever, it is vital that consumers and IT managers become cognizant of warning signs before acquiring software."
Microsoft cautions that, in addition to the increased potential for viruses, consumers who acquire pirated products could find they are missing key elements, such as user manuals and product identifications, Certificates of Authenticity, end-user license agreements and even software code. Microsoft continually researches the viability of new anti-piracy technologies, such as the hologram on the hub of the Windows 98 CD, to maintain the integrity of the distribution channel and reduce the costs of piracy.
Consumers should become familiar with the warning signs that can help them identify counterfeit or illegal software:
In addition, when users acquire a new computer system, it should include operating system software. If that software is the Microsoft Windows 98 operating system, it should be accompanied by a user manual that incorporates a Certificate of Authenticity as the cover. The customer will also receive a CD-ROM with the software program. There must be an end-user license agreement (visible on screen when the program is first run). If any of these elements is missing, the product is suspect.
Customers or resellers with questions about the legitimacy of Microsoft products should contact the Microsoft anti-piracy hot line, toll free, at (800) RU-LEGIT (785-3448), or send e-mail to email@example.com. In addition, a list of authorized distributors and details regarding the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) System Builder program are available at http://www.microsoft.com/oem/. Consumers can obtain more information about software piracy by calling the Business Software Alliance anti-piracy hot line at (888) NO-PIRACY (667-4722) or sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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