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RealTime IT News

Microsoft Cheers Anti-Counterfeiting Law

Microsoft , whose dominant products are a prime target of software piracy and intellectual property thieves, praised President Bush and congressional leaders for enacting a software anti-counterfeiting law.

The measure, which was signed into law late last week, prohibits knowingly trafficking in software, audio or video content with counterfeit labels or packaging. It also expands the definition of a counterfeit label to include documentation that misrepresents the number of authorized copies, authorized user or the edition of the program.

Furthermore, it authorizes a copyright owner who is injured by a violation to file a civil suit that can result in injunctions and monetary damages.

"The new law will be a critical part of the overall effort to address software counterfeiting in this country," Jack Krumholtz, Microsoft's asociate general counsel and managing director, said in a statement.

The bill (H.R. 3632) was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and comes in response to the spread of software counterfeiting. Software companies are using techniques such as including holograms, micro-printing and special ink, according to a summary of the bill.

"The bundling of authentic labeling components with counterfeit software has become part of an intricate web of international organized crime," the bill continued.

Earlier this year, the FBI netted close to $87 million worth of counterfeit software and components in California, Washington and Texas as a result of a sting operation called Operation Digital Marauder. That sting included counterfeit Microsoft software.

In November, Microsoft said it filed eight lawsuits across the U.S. against defendants who allegedly distributed counterfeit Microsoft Certificate of Authority labels or distributed genuine COA labels that could be used on pirated software.

According to a study by the Business Software Alliance and research firm IDC, 36 percent of the software installed on computers worldwide was pirated in 2003, representing a loss of nearly $29 billion.

Microsoft has a consumer hotline for piracy issues and a special Web site, that walks consumers through the process of looking for the distinguishing marks of genuine products.

The anti-counterfeiting bill is one of several signed by President Bush before on Thursday. Others include legislation that frees funding for a program that pays for schools and libraries to get online.