RealTime IT News

Microsoft Continues Anti-Piracy War

Microsoft SA has issued a summons against computer vendor Computer Chronics for R100,000 (about $12,453.29) in damages for alleged software piracy, the latest in a series of moves against software pirates.

At issue is the alleged loading onto the hard disk of the Command.com file. As software cannot currently be protected by patent law in South Africa, the matter is being disputed in terms of copyright law.

The Command.com is the command interpreter for Windows. Without it, Windows won't work. With it, the end-user can boot up any Microsoft Operating System.

Mark Reynolds, in charge of Microsoft SA's anti-piracy and legislation initiative, says Microsoft discovered the alleged infringement thanks to an anonymous tip. Acting on the tip, the company made a test purchase from Computer Chronics, the result being the summons.

The figure of R100,000 is Microsoft's estimate of the potential sales value lost, says Reynolds.

Microsoft has recently been stepping up their battle against software piracy -- estimated at 45 percent in South Africa (down 2 percent from the beginning of the year).

Earlier this month Microsoft SA issued a summons against Keystone Information Service Group Pty (Ltd) for R1.1 million (about $136,986.28) in damages for alleged software piracy. Microsoft alleges Keystone sold the Mpumalanga Department of Education 347 PCs pre-loaded with unlicensed Microsoft software last year.

And in May the company launched its declaration drive, whereby it asked companies to detail their Microsoft software and assert its legality. This drive ended on 11 June, with Microsoft receiving a response of 15.2 percent. Reynolds views this response rate as "extremely positive."

According to a release, Microsoft will be phoning those companies it targeted, but that didn't reply to ask why they didn't get in touch with Microsoft and whether Microsoft can "offer any assistance."