Computing News | Microsoft names and shames 25 pirate retailers
Microsoft has named and shamed 25 UK retailers it says have owned up to having pre-installed pirated copies of Windows software on new computers in 2010.
The software giant has reached out-of-court settlements with 21 independent computer shops, who admitted pre-loading counterfeit Microsoft software onto the hard disks of new machines it then sold, along with four rogue traders selling Microsoft software illegally on auction site eBay.
The company's investigators were acting on tip-offs from consumers wary they might be getting deals on Windows and Office software that were too good to be true.
However, not content with taking action against the rogue retailers, Microsoft took the further step of releasing their identities as a warning to other traders involved in or considering trading in illegal software.
“At a time when UK resellers are looking to expand their business post-recession, piracy not only impedes growth, but puts local hard-working computer shops out of business,” Microsoft UK head of anti-piracy Michala Wardell said in a statement.
While for the most part the companies identified by Microsoft were located in various locations around the UK, the fact that six in particular were based in Birmingham and five in Liverpool saw Microsoft label the areas “piracy hotspots”, saying that the actions of a few rogue traders were putting unfair pressure on those trying to earn an honest living.
“This is the case in piracy hotspots such as Merseyside and Birmingham, where honest resellers feel the cumulative effect of being out-priced by a number of local illegal traders,” Wardell's statement continued.
Most of the resellers it got in contact with admitted their crimes openly to Microsoft, though it says many claimed they were either unaware that the practice was illegal, or that an individual employee had been acting without its knowledge.
Each paid an undisclosed settlement and agreed to stop selling pirated software to keep the case out of the courts, with most reportedly saying they would be happy to continue selling legal Microsoft products in the future.
Earlier this year a Microsoft-sponsored survey revealed that one in three UK consumers believe it is acceptable to use pirated software in the workplace or at home.
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