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How Does Microsoft Protect from Piracy?

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Manish Jindal

December 4, 2023

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How Does Microsoft Protect from Piracy?

Protecting intellectual property rights and combating software piracy is no small feat. It’s like trying to keep a fortress safe from invaders. But why is it so crucial?

Well, piracy not only affects the company’s revenue but also hampers innovation and growth.

So, how does Microsoft ensure its fortress remains impenetrable?

Let’s dive into this article “How does Microsoft protect from piracy” and gain useful information regarding this.

Economic and Security Threats Posed by Software Piracy

Piracy and counterfeiting are escalating threats to intellectual property, intensified by technological advancements.

Microsoft is alarmed by the risks counterfeit software poses to consumers, including exposure to harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious code.

Such software not only stunts economic growth but was responsible for a global economic loss of nearly $50 billion in 2007.

Specifically, in India, reducing PC software piracy by just ten points could generate 44,000 jobs, yield an extra $200 million in taxes, and boost the economy by $3.1 billion.

The stakes are high, emphasising the need for vigilance against piracy.

Dangers of Using Fake Software

Counterfeit software poses escalating security threats to individuals, businesses, and governments.

A 2006 IDC study revealed that one out of every four websites offering such software tried to install harmful or unwanted code upon download.

This research also showed that over half of the counterfeit Microsoft software bought from resellers in 17 countries either had fake code, malware, or couldn’t be installed.

The Business Software Alliance and IDC’s 2009 study linked high malware infection rates to countries with elevated piracy rates.

A Microsoft survey underscored these threats, showing how easily customers can inadvertently use risky software.

An examination of 30 UK mid-sized businesses found over a third were using counterfeit software, having spent an average of US$10,000 on it.

All these companies believed they had bought genuine software and were stunned to discover otherwise.

The repercussions of using fake software are severe and expensive. Malware effects can vary from pesky ads to significant data security breaches.

A study by the Harrison Group indicated that businesses using pirated software faced a 73% higher risk of data loss or damage and a 43% increased chance of critical system failures lasting over 24 hours.

Recovering from a single malware incident can cost upwards of US$1,000, with data loss or compromise costs skyrocketing to tens of thousands per event.

Ironically, those opting for pirated software to save money might end up spending more due to a single security breach.

How Does Microsoft Protect from Piracy: Microsoft’s Global Crusade Against Software Piracy

To combat the global menace of software piracy, Microsoft has established a dedicated anti-piracy team that operates in over 150 countries.

This team comprises ex-law enforcement officials, IP lawyers, intelligence experts, forensic specialists, and government relations professionals.

Teaming up with other corporations and industry groups, Microsoft actively engages with lawmakers to craft and enforce policies that safeguard intellectual property rights.

We also assist customers who unintentionally acquire counterfeit software, guiding them towards genuine alternatives and pinpointing the fake suppliers.

In just two years, customer reports on suspected counterfeit software vendors have surged to over 150,000, indicating growing concerns about the risks of illicit products.

Collaborations between Microsoft, industry peers, governments, partners, and our customers form the bedrock of our strategy against piracy.

Suggested Reading: How can Software be Protected from Piracy

Microsoft’s Comprehensive Strategy to Combat Software Piracy in India

Microsoft Introduces ‘Global Anti-Piracy Awareness Day’ to Safeguard Global Consumers and Partners from Software Piracy

To combat software piracy in India, Microsoft Corporation India Pvt. Ltd. has unveiled a range of educational and enforcement measures as part of the ‘Global Anti-Piracy Awareness Day’.

This initiative involves both local and international efforts across 49 countries on six continents to address the growing issue of pirated and counterfeit software.

In partnership with various Channel Associations in India, Microsoft India has initiated an educational campaign to enlighten resellers about the risks of software piracy, ensuring consumer protection.

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Collaborations are already in place with associations like COMPASS in Kolkata and NECTA in Guwahati to emphasise the importance of genuine software.

Furthermore, over three thousand resellers nationwide have received informative letters about the benefits of original software.

Microsoft is also enhancing its efforts to make authentic software more accessible to end-users. Collaborations with major retail chains like Croma, Reliance Digital, and Vijay Sales are underway.

Moreover, Microsoft has introduced an e-commerce site, www.buyoriginalms.com, allowing customers from 52 Indian cities to purchase genuine Microsoft products, from Windows and Office to Xbox games and accessories.

BSA India Director Commends Microsoft’s Efforts Against Rising Global Software Piracy

Ms. Lizum Mishra, Director, Business Software Alliance (BSA) India, said:

“Increasingly, highly organized criminal networks are engaging in the global trade of counterfeit software and other goods to finance their illegal activities. It has therefore become imperative for the public and private sector to partner closely and mobilize their resources towards ensuring greater appreciation for Intellectual Property and reduction in software piracy. In this context, I would like to commend Microsoft for the stance they are taking on this issue, and the wide ranging initiatives being undertaken by them.”

Globally, over a third of PCs either lack proper licensing or run pirated software.

This rampant software piracy inflicts significant losses on legitimate businesses, with the damage only growing.

The Business Software Alliance’s fifth annual global PC software piracy study from May 2008 revealed that economic losses due to piracy surged from $7.2 billion in 2006 to over $8 billion in 2007.

By tackling this illicit activity, Microsoft supports genuine dealers affected by illegal sales and ensures consumers benefit from authentic Microsoft products.

Microsoft’s Argus: Using Blockchain to Trace and Combat Piracy

TechRadar reports that Microsoft researchers are exploring blockchain as a solution to combat piracy. In a research document, Microsoft emphasised the importance of incentivising genuine reporting from the public regarding piracy.

To address this, Microsoft plans to introduce a system named Argus, based on the Ethereum blockchain.

This system would enable users to report piracy incidents anonymously. As a reward for their reports, users would receive a financial incentive.

The Argus system is designed to trace illicit content to its origin using a distinct watermark linked to a confidential code.

If pirated content gets reported, the original source’s status will shift to “accused” and, if no appeal succeeds, subsequently to “guilty.”

Conclusion

Microsoft’s strategy to combat the issue of software piracy is multifaceted and robust.

Collaborating closely with law enforcement agencies, the tech giant aims to dismantle the core software piracy racket.

The transparent incentive mechanism they’ve introduced not only addresses the economics of piracy but also educates about the risks of piracy.

The long-term effects from piracy, including rampant piracy and institutional piracy, are detrimental.

The losses from the widespread software piracy increased over the years, but with Microsoft’s proactive measures, we anticipate a decline of piracy, ensuring a safer digital landscape for all.

FAQs

What is software piracy?

Software piracy refers to the unauthorised copying, distribution, or use of copyrighted software without the permission of the software’s copyright holder.

This can include activities such as making multiple copies of a single software license, distributing software without a proper license, downloading pirated versions from the internet, or using a single license on multiple devices contrary to the terms of agreement.

How does Microsoft actively combat software piracy?

Microsoft employs a multi-pronged approach, including global collaborations, stringent anti-piracy policies, and innovative systems like the Argus System.

What is the Argus System proposed by Microsoft researchers?

The Argus System is a decentralised anti-piracy system that uses blockchain technology to incentivise and reward anti-piracy efforts.

How does piracy impact Microsoft and the software industry?

Piracy affects Microsoft’s revenue and hampers innovation. The broader software industry also faces challenges like reduced trust in products and stifled growth.

Why is it essential to combat software piracy?

Combating widespread piracy is crucial to protect intellectual property rights, ensure revenue for software companies, and promote innovation and growth in the industry.

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