Microsoft Acts to Curb Software Piracy in Ohio
Company Files Lawsuits Against Five Resellers in Ohio, Where Nearly 20 Percent of Distributed Software Is Illegal
CLEVELAND - Oct. 21, 1999 - Microsoft Corp. today announced that it has filed lawsuits against five computer resellers in Ohio. The lawsuits are part of Microsoft's ongoing efforts to protect legitimate software distributors and consumers from the negative effects of software piracy and to lessen the impact of software piracy on both state and national economies. The lawsuits allege that the companies distributed counterfeit Microsoft® software and/or installed unlicensed software on computers.
According to a recent study by International Planning & Research Corp., software piracy cost Ohio 5,992 jobs in 1998, which equates to over $180 million in unrealized wages and salaries. Lost tax revenues due to piracy amounted to more than $25 million - funds that otherwise could have contributed to state and local improvement projects.
"A large percentage of the software distributed in this state is illegal, and the effect on our business is severe," said Thomas L. Sample, director of technology at MicroAge/Smart Solutions Inc. "We applaud the software industry and local law enforcement for cracking down on this kind of intellectual property theft. Not only does software piracy hurt sales in our business, but it has a broad impact on small and medium-sized businesses and consumers that can't be ignored."
Four of the lawsuits allege that the defendant distributed counterfeit copies of Microsoft software to investigators and/or customers. Two of the suits allege that the defendant distributed computer systems to investigators and/or customers after hard disk loading, the practice of installing unauthorized copies of software onto the hard drives of computers that are sold to customers.
The following complaints were filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division:
The following complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Western Division:
The following complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division:
"Unwary customers who get a seemingly fantastic deal on their new, nicely loaded computer often end up having been duped," said Janice Block, corporate attorney for Microsoft. "When it comes to these purchases, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Consumers who have purchased pirated or counterfeit software could find their systems plagued with incomplete code or a virus, not to mention ineligibility for customer support or upgrades. Microsoft is dedicated to raising customer awareness and will continue to pursue resellers that engage in this illegal practice."
Microsoft has announced that, in addition to its other community affairs activities, the company expects to donate an estimated $25 million over the next five years - half of its anticipated software piracy recoveries in that time period. Funds will be donated to a variety of nonprofit organizations focused on providing access to technology for disadvantaged communities. In 1998, software piracy caused losses to the U.S. economy amounting to nearly $1 billion in taxes and 109,000 jobs.
Consumers and resellers are encouraged to become familiar with the warning signs that can help them identify counterfeit or illegal software:
Customers or resellers with questions about the legitimacy of Microsoft software 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 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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