Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 12th Sep 2010 21:16 UTC
Microsoft Piracy is a big problem for large software vendors licensors like Microsoft. As such, the Redmond giant is undertaking several anti-piracy efforts all over the world, and, of course, it attempts to make its software harder to crack through activation and validation. As The New York Times has discovered, however, the prevalence of pirated Microsoft software in Russia is giving the Russian authorities a pretence to raid the offices of outspoken advocacy groups or opposition media - supported by Microsoft lawyers. Update: Microsoft responds with a blog post that says all the right things, including "Microsoft will create a new unilateral software license for NGOs that will ensure they have free, legal copies of our products."
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Russia's PM
by benb320 on Sun 12th Sep 2010 21:39 UTC
benb320
Member since:
2010-02-23

not to be rude but, you have a bit of a typo, Russia's Prime ministers name is actually Vladimir Putin, not Poetin

Reply Score: 1

RE: Russia's PM
by Thom_Holwerda on Sun 12th Sep 2010 21:43 UTC in reply to "Russia's PM"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

That's the way we Dutch spell it, so it slipped in there. Fixing.

Reply Score: 1

Russia's PM
by roblearns on Mon 13th Sep 2010 14:23 UTC in reply to "Russia's PM"
roblearns Member since:
2010-09-13

I admit, I haven't read the NYT article, but then again, I don't have time to read every anti-Russia tirade that comes down the pike. It's great sensationalism. But it's not usually balanced.

Russia's record on Lake Baikal is getting better:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4945998.stm

They moved the proposed pipeline away from the region at the cost of years to the project and billions in dollars, but as then President Putin said, if you have a spill, you can't take it back. That type of forward thinking means you won't have a spill in Lake Baikal - as you did in the Gulf of Mexico.

What people don't understand about Russia - is when you have a problem, like piracy, you have to solve it, through law enforcement action.

This environmental group may not like an audit, but big deal. They are crying to the world 'evil Russia' because that is part of Russian society too - don't get your way - the threat is we are going to make these wild claims and try to embarass the country in front of the world.

So while you can muse about Russian authoritarianism - and its a subject to understand - also muse about Russian civil society - this isn't a country where everyone is a patriot and the only question is what is the best course for the country.

This is a country where everyone takes an extreme position - and tries to force their way. That isn't just the government, but includes this environmental group as well - all this talk of suppression, don't you believe it.

Reply Score: 1

ballmerlikesgoogle
Member since:
2009-10-23

So the advocacy groups legally buys licensed Microsoft software, and still end up getting screwed over by the government by a pretence that it is pirated software.

Then Microsoft goes and hides, because its not interested in helping the common man from getting screwed over by a government that is using Microsoft's own piracy issues as a cover to stifle dissent.

Guess your on your own from now on, Microsoft is only interested in your $ and nothing else.

More or less shows again how an American company has no interest in the concepts of freedom and democracy, the very things that allowed it to become a company in the first place....

Go Linux....

Reply Score: 9

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Exactly.

If one company screws over another - alas. If one company screws over its customers - alas, you have a choice. However, this is just plain wrong - ethically speaking.

Reply Score: 4

Moredhas Member since:
2008-04-10

It would make great publicity for Microsoft to come out on the side of Good for once. Make an example of legal software owners, show the world it's better to buy than to pirate because of the protections you are afforded. The message this sends is that the environmental group might as well have pirated Windows and Office for all the difference it makes. Since everyone pirates Windows, obviously every Windows user is a pirate.

Reply Score: 4

WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

More or less shows again how an American company has no interest in the concepts of freedom and democracy, the very things that allowed it to become a company in the first place....

Go Linux....


The irony of this statement is that without the participation of some of these American companies, Linux would not be where it is today.

Reply Score: 4

ballmerlikesgoogle Member since:
2009-10-23

Linux is where it is today because of the GPL, not necessarily because of how an American or any other national company, foundation, or individual has made contributions to Linux kernel (that includes Microsoft)

The GPL is what keeps the companies (and everyone else) in line who use and contribute to the Linux code. Linux would not be what it is today had it not been put under this particular license.

Reply Score: 4

WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

Linux would not be what it is today had it not been put under this particular license.


True, but let's face facts - it would also not be where it is without the 'evil American corporations' that either funded, or directly contributed to its development.

Reply Score: 4

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

So the advocacy groups legally buys licensed Microsoft software, and still end up getting screwed over by the government by a pretence that it is pirated software.


Clearly, the best thing to do is to completely avoid running commercial-licensed software. This way, even the most unscrupulous of authorities cannot go after you, and confiscate your computers, through claiming "investigation of piracy" as an excuse. One cannot pirate software for which everyone has unconditional permission to execute.

In an environment like Russia, I am surprised that advocay groups apparently did not figure this out for themselves.

Reply Score: 4

Moredhas Member since:
2008-04-10

I'm sure something about patent violation could be trumped up. Even if they used GNUsense, they could blow some smoke about GUIs, or file management concepts, even if it's all unfounded.

Reply Score: 2

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

I'm sure something about patent violation could be trumped up. Even if they used GNUsense, they could blow some smoke about GUIs, or file management concepts, even if it's all unfounded.


The "authorities" do not have a right to prosecute patent violations, only the patent holders do.

Reply Score: 5

qbast Member since:
2010-02-08

Cannot? They went after group that had fully licensed Microsoft software. What makes you think that using GNU would prevent authorities from raiding them, taking the computers and then slowly and carefully investigating if their software is indeed legal?

Reply Score: 3

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Cannot? They went after group that had fully licensed Microsoft software. What makes you think that using GNU would prevent authorities from raiding them, taking the computers and then slowly and carefully investigating if their software is indeed legal?


The only thing that can make software illegal is if it is copied without permission from the authors.

Any authorities, even Russian, would be unable to pretend that they did not know that everyone has such permission form the authors of GNU/Linux GPL software.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7034828.stm
Schoolchildren in Russia are to be taught using the free, open-source Linux software in an effort to cut the cost of teaching information technology.

By 2009, all computers in Russian schools are to be run on Linux - which means they will not have to pay for a licence for software, such as Microsoft's Windows.

Reply Score: 1

qbast Member since:
2010-02-08

We are talking about two different things. It does not matter if it is legal or not. I am sure that the organization immediately provided licenses, invoices, whatever authorities wanted. And it did not help.
So you say you are using Linux? Well, we have information from anonymous source that you are lying. So we will take all your computers and check. It won't take more than 6 months so don't complain.

Reply Score: 4

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

We are talking about two different things. It does not matter if it is legal or not. I am sure that the organization immediately provided licenses, invoices, whatever authorities wanted. And it did not help.
So you say you are using Linux? Well, we have information from anonymous source that you are lying. So we will take all your computers and check. It won't take more than 6 months so don't complain.


Get Linux from an officially supported Russian distribution. Register it.

http://www.linux.com/archive/feed/119106
http://www.altlinux.com/

The authorities cannot simultaneously promote Linux for the Russian people on the one hand, and then confiscate the computers of people who are using it on the other.

That kind of thing can only happen in America concerning the products of American global monopoly corporations, and American-pushed political/commercial agendas such as ACTA.

Edited 2010-09-13 10:48 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

The authorities cannot simultaneously promote Linux for the Russian people on the one hand, and then confiscate the computers of people who are using it on the other.


Of course they can. They can still claim "they may have pirated software" and raid their offices - whether they register x number of computers running Linux or not. The authorities could claim the advocacy groups may have more computers than the ones registered, they may claim they are running Office on WINE illegally, they may claim they run Windows illegally in virtualisation environments, etc. etc. etc.

Reply Score: 3

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"The authorities cannot simultaneously promote Linux for the Russian people on the one hand, and then confiscate the computers of people who are using it on the other.


Of course they can. They can still claim "they may have pirated software" and raid their offices - whether they register x number of computers running Linux or not. The authorities could claim the advocacy groups may have more computers than the ones registered, they may claim they are running Office on WINE illegally, they may claim they run Windows illegally in virtualisation environments, etc. etc. etc.
"

While this is true, it is true only for absolute authoritarian governments in complete control. Most real-world governments need to have some sort of viable PR accountability. Most real-world governments cannot simply abuse citizens using outrageous claims that are easily seen to be lies.

Hence it is quite easy for a government to confiscate computers of groups who claim "we bought all our software properly licensed". That is just a claim that could easily be a lie, and the group has publicly admitted that they are using commercial software that needs to be properly licensed. They might easily have licenses for only some machines.

However, if the persecuted group were to claim that "all of our software is free software, it is state-sponsored Linux" ... then they have a credible position that has PR weight. It is easy to see that a machine is running Linux, you just have to turn it on, you don't have to take the machine away. It is easy to show that your files were created by OpenOffice in ODF format.

For reasons of PR alone, the state must come up with a real reason for wanting to confiscate the computers now. "Suspicion of piracy" isn't going to swing it now as a purported reason in the Internet age.

Reply Score: 2

roblearns Member since:
2010-09-13

"The authorities cannot simultaneously promote Linux for the Russian people on the one hand, and then confiscate the computers of people who are using it on the other.
Of course they can. They can still claim "they may have pirated software" and raid their offices - whether they register x number of computers running Linux or not. The authorities could claim the advocacy groups may have more computers than the ones registered, they may claim they are running Office on WINE illegally, they may claim they run Windows illegally in virtualisation environments, etc. etc. etc. "

Sorry but this is just out in the stratosphere as far as bizarre speculation goes.

Why couldn't they just accuse the group of being a front for a terrorist organization. Claim they are hiding weapons of mass destruction? Claim they have proof of links to Al Qaida - but for security reasons cannot release any of their sources or provide any proof of any of the claims.

The reality is its just an audit, and this is just the reaction to an audit.

And the NYT is just being the NYT.

When you find out a journalist has been poisened by plutonium - that's frankly a credible case of interference by a government agency.

When you find an oil barron didn't pay his taxes and went to jail - that is still reported as tyranny in the NYT - but as a long time Russia watcher - I dismiss the NYT version of events in that case.

There is an issue with authoritarianism in Russia - at the same time there is also continuing reforms - Oligarchs are being told they must pay taxes, or face jail.

Software piracy is slowly being cracked down on - and that's a real initiative not a front for some cockamamy anti-enviornmental groups scheme - good grief that's laughable.

Don't you realize in Russia, as in the rest of the world, people want jobs. The government has zero need to explain why they saved a factory from closure.
Only in the tortured fantasy of some western observers is this some outlandish scheme to suppress a green movement.

Besides, Putin has proven that he's somewhat of a supporter of Lake Baikal, he's talked about the need to preserve the lake for future generations many times.

Reply Score: 1

viton Member since:
2005-08-09

The only thing that can make software illegal is if it is copied without permission from the authors.

In reality, everything without installation disc is considered as counterfeit. You can't install Linux and feel yourself protected. Well, in Russia nobody can feel safe except uber-corrupted ministry of internal affairs.

Reply Score: 2

Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

[qClearly, the best thing to do is to completely avoid running commercial-licensed software. This way, even the most unscrupulous of authorities cannot go after you, and confiscate your computers, through claiming "investigation of piracy" as an excuse. One cannot pirate software for which everyone has unconditional permission to execute.

In an environment like Russia, I am surprised that advocay groups apparently did not figure this out for themselves. [/q]
Running Linux (for example) wouldn't protect you.

These people weren't raided because they were running Windows, they were raided because they were suspected for running illegal copies of Windows.

You can be running Linux and still be a piracy suspect and sadly the only way to prove yourself innocent is to have your computers seized.


This is why Microsoft should have stepped in. But clearly they've always been more motivated by money than customer experience.

Reply Score: 5

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

You can be running Linux and still be a piracy suspect and sadly the only way to prove yourself innocent is to have your computers seized.


In the face of protests from the accused, this is not a PR-credible act for a government ... at the very least it is considerably less credible than the case where the accused admit to be using commercial software.

It is quite possible (you could even go so far as to say easy) to run a perfectly clean "no piracy" shop using freedom software, but it is actually a bit of a task to ensure your operation is 100% copyright compliant when you are running commercial software on multiple machines.

Edited 2010-09-13 13:09 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

In the face of protests from the accused, this is not a PR-credible act for a government ... at the very least it is considerably less credible than the case where the accused admit to be using commercial software.


We're talking about Russia. Russia is pretty much a dictatorship at this point. If even in the US large corporations control the legal agenda, how do you think Russia is going to be?

Russia's government doesn't need to worry about PR because they control most of the media, and use fear as a means to silence the rest.

Reply Score: 2

Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

In the face of protests from the accused, this is not a PR-credible act for a government ... at the very least it is considerably less credible than the case where the accused admit to be using commercial software.


Somehow I don't think the Russian government has much to worry about when it comes to PR. ;)

Edited 2010-09-13 14:04 UTC

Reply Score: 4

Ops...
by TBPrince on Sun 12th Sep 2010 22:25 UTC
TBPrince
Member since:
2005-07-06

Come on... it's New York Times talking about Russia. ;-) IS there anything else to say? ;-)

Reply Score: 3

A poor execuse for an MS bash fest
by nt_jerkface on Sun 12th Sep 2010 23:24 UTC
nt_jerkface
Member since:
2009-08-26

Blaming MS is pretty silly when the Russian government will find all kinds of methods to target opponents.

They've already gone after quite a few organizations with accusations of not following tax code properly.

If North Korea were to hang someone over pirating Photoshop should we be angry with Adobe?

The Russian government doesn't recognize the same rights that Western countries value. More shocking news at 11.

Edited 2010-09-12 23:25 UTC

Reply Score: 8

mrhasbean Member since:
2006-04-03

The Russian government doesn't recognize the same rights that Western countries value.


You mean like mandatory filtering of internet access?

Reply Score: 4

TBPrince Member since:
2005-07-06

lol Or getting jailed without trial for years without the need to even explain why ? Or maybe kidnap or kill people in foreign countries ? Or bombing kids, ooops bombing collateral damages...

lol I'm a bit confused which western values he's talking about ;-)

Reply Score: 3

pandronic Member since:
2006-05-18

Russia doing what Russia does best. Damn, that country is fucked up (P.S.: I'm from Eastern Europe).

Reply Score: 3

ferryb Member since:
2010-09-13

I don't think that the essence of the NYTimes article is about using a software license agreement as a tool to misuse. I read a sentence like "lawyers retained by Microsoft have staunchly backed the police" as a claim that Microsoft is actively involved getting people convicted.

Reply Score: 2

trenchsol Member since:
2006-12-07

Well, certain groups of people are obsessed with Microsoft. I don't like their software, too, but have more urgent business to do instead of finding new ways to insult Microsoft.

Far as I am concerned, after the DOJ case in 1999, they are much more open. Is it because they are forced to or did they have change of heart, frankly I don't care. I think that making analogies between corporate entities and human individuals is pretty stupid. Thinking of some companies as "evil" and others as "good" won't get you anywhere. Well, except, it would increase on line traffic and number of forum posts, which will make advertisers happy.

If there was no Microsoft, Russian authorities would have found another way to make life harder to opposition. They are creative in that kind of business and have long tradition that goes back in the days of Tsar.

Reply Score: 2

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

If there was no Microsoft, Russian authorities would have found another way to make life harder to opposition


Right, because that makes it ok. If we don't then someone else would. Hey, I mean, what the hell. Who cares if someone sell weapons to both sides of a conflict right? Someone has to, you know. Who cares if you betray your country and sell military secrets to Al Queda or China or North Korea? They'd have found out sooner or later anyway.
Fatalism is awesome like that.

Reply Score: 4

trenchsol Member since:
2006-12-07

Don't you think that you are exaggerating a bit ? Government offices in Russia are, probably, full of illegal Microsoft and other software and no one cares. Do you really believe that Microsoft is helping Russian government ? Perhaps they are sending hit squads at night to assassinate government opponents and copyright violators ? MSFT = Microsoft Special Forces Team, I have always suspected that.....

Reply Score: 2

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Don't you think that you are exaggerating a bit ?


No.

Government offices in Russia are, probably, full of illegal Microsoft and other software and no one cares.


Yeah, funny how MS laywers aren't hitting the government, eh?

Do you really believe that Microsoft is helping Russian government ?


That's what the article said and you made the argument that it would be ok if they did.

Reply Score: 3

Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26


If North Korea were to hang someone over pirating Photoshop should we be angry with Adobe?


If Adobe were aiding in the investigations, then yes I would be mad at Adobe.

Reply Score: 6

This is prone to happen more and more...
by mrhasbean on Sun 12th Sep 2010 23:30 UTC
mrhasbean
Member since:
2006-04-03

Think about the possibilities. If Governments want to target particular individuals or social groups the internet gives them incredible power. Want to get the community really against people who download commercial movies from torrents? It's pretty easy really. Wrap some illegal pornographic material up into a file that's made to look like a new or popular movie title, upload it somewhere and wait. Track the downloads, raid the residences or offices and bingo, media utopia.

The same method could be used over and over to target individuals or groups - activists, gays, religious or political persuasions - and the general population would buy into it in a heartbeat because the majority of people these days are "educated" by the media.

But no, that just all conspiracy theory, our governments would never do something as unethical as that. Would they?

Reply Score: 3

bnolsen Member since:
2006-01-06

Sounds like you just gave good reason why government should always be very starved of resources. Big government == huge potential for big abuse. Russia suffers from the same problem China has...excessive amounts of people try to get everything they can for as little as possible...it's screw the other guy before he can screw you

Reply Score: 4

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Sounds like you just gave good reason why government should always be very starved of resources. Big government == huge potential for big abuse. Russia suffers from the same problem China has...excessive amounts of people try to get everything they can for as little as possible...it's screw the other guy before he can screw you


Sounds like you just gave a very gave good reason why large corporations should always be very starved of rights. Big business == huge potential for big abuse. America suffers from a fairly unique problem ... tiny numbers of people try to get everything they can for as little as possible...it's screw the other guy all the time.

Edited 2010-09-13 10:36 UTC

Reply Score: 4

google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

Thats not an american problem, thats a human problem. In fact, that is the principal that capitalism is based on.

Reply Score: 2

Not gonna happen
by reduz on Mon 13th Sep 2010 01:57 UTC
reduz
Member since:
2006-02-25

I live in a third world contry, over here NO ONE uses legal Windows (unless it came installed with maybe a laptop, but not even that because it's usually just starter edition). So yeah, in most of the world (as in, most of the non-so-rich world) Windows is pirated.

If Windows couldn't be cracked, everyone would use Ubuntu. Simple as that, and that would be far more threatening to them than lost sales due to piracy.

Also, note how they are only interested in going after large companies, not medium/small business or home users. This is for a good reason.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Not gonna happen
by adkilla on Mon 13th Sep 2010 04:00 UTC in reply to "Not gonna happen"
adkilla Member since:
2005-07-07

Which third world country are you in?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Not gonna happen
by Kasi on Mon 13th Sep 2010 04:12 UTC in reply to "RE: Not gonna happen"
Kasi Member since:
2008-07-12

Which third world country are you in?


Florida

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Not gonna happen
by reduz on Mon 13th Sep 2010 05:58 UTC in reply to "RE: Not gonna happen"
reduz Member since:
2006-02-25

South America

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Not gonna happen
by Zenja on Mon 13th Sep 2010 06:16 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Not gonna happen"
Zenja Member since:
2005-07-06

If this was Reddit, you would have been ripped to shreds for calling South America a country.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Not gonna happen
by vodoomoth on Mon 13th Sep 2010 11:10 UTC in reply to "Not gonna happen"
vodoomoth Member since:
2010-03-30

If Windows couldn't be cracked, everyone would use Ubuntu. Simple as that, and that would be far more threatening to them than lost sales due to piracy.

Why would it be "more threatening" to them? As far as they are concerned, the third world using pirated copies of their software is non existent as it's not providing them with any revenue or benefit of any kind. This "market" may as well go Ubuntu, I don't get why they would care... unless there's something I'm not thinking of.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Not gonna happen
by Soulbender on Mon 13th Sep 2010 11:34 UTC in reply to "RE: Not gonna happen"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

I don't get why they would care... unless there's something I'm not thinking of.


Because all the piracy gives MS something very important: mindshare. Everyone uses WIndows, everyone expect to be using Windows, everyone learns on Windows, everyone develops in Windows.

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: Not gonna happen
by vodoomoth on Mon 13th Sep 2010 21:30 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Not gonna happen"
vodoomoth Member since:
2010-03-30

OK. So there's got to be a moment when that mindshare is beneficial to Microsoft. Which is when? Microsoft is a company and their goal is to sell something now or somehow prepare the field for future sales.

In that environment (which I've grown in by the way), it would even be detrimental: pirated copies are so common that the law abiding guy appears as a renegade (it goes beyond software: people sound they horn to ask you why on earth you stopped your car at the red light and dared slow them down! True story, I've experienced that last April). And making fun of others is a true sport in west Africa, at least in my home country. People will even call you stupid for spending money for things (almost) no one pays for. They'll call Microsoft stupid and boast of "making rich Americans work for them, poor Africans". You want to be the "legal" guy in the crowd? Then say hello to loneliness.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by Stephen!
by Stephen! on Mon 13th Sep 2010 15:10 UTC
Stephen!
Member since:
2007-11-24

Microsoft, by it's own admission, benefits from Piracy.
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070312/165448.shtml

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Stephen!
by MollyC on Mon 13th Sep 2010 20:50 UTC in reply to "Comment by Stephen!"
MollyC Member since:
2006-07-04

If a (closed) software company were to plot a curve according to the percentage of piracy of its products along the x-axis vs the "benefits" of piracy on the y-axis, the resulting curve wouldn't be constantly rising (i.e., the more piracy there is, the better for the company). I'm guessing that the curve would be "bell" shaped, and the "bell" would be lopsided since 0% piracy wouldn't result in zero-profit, while 100% piracy would result in zero-profit (unless you go with the "we rely on selling support for all our funds" malarky). I suspect that the peak of the curve would be closer to x=0% piracy than to x=100% piracy. I'm guessing that 15% to 25% piracy would be optimal. Anything beyond that begins to hurt the company.

But I'm only guessing at what the optimal piracy rate actually is. I think it also depends on the software in question. For video games, for example, I think the optimal piracy rate is likely to be lower than it would be for operating systems or office suites. For pirated movies, I think the optimal piracy rate would be pretty close to zero. For music, I'd guess piracy rate of 5% for any given artist would be optimal (i.e. someone pirates just enough music to become a fan of the artist, then buys legit copies from then on). Something like Photoshop, I don't think is affected much at all by casual piracy, but would hurt Adobe severely if professional art departments engaged in large scale piracy of that product.

But I'm just guessing on all of the above.

Reply Score: 3