Microsoft 'abhors' stifling of political dissent, will create new software license

Microsoft will hire a law firm to conduct an independent investigation into whether its anti-piracy practices helped fuel the stifling of political dissent in Russia, and will create a new software license to protect non-government organizations "from falling victim to nefarious actions taken in the guise of anti-piracy enforcement," the company said Monday.

Microsoft will hire a law firm to conduct an independent investigation into whether its anti-piracy practices helped fuel the stifling of political dissent in Russia, and will create a new software license to protect non-government organizations "from falling victim to nefarious actions taken in the guise of anti-piracy enforcement," the company said Monday.

Microsoft is acting swiftly to repair public relations damages suffered in the wake of a New York Times report that said Russian security services are confiscating computers from advocacy groups and opposition newspapers "under the pretext of searching for pirated Microsoft software."

Microsoft: We love open source

The article goes on to say that Russian "authorities are receiving key assistance from an unexpected partner: Microsoft itself." Microsoft's lawyers "have staunchly backed the police" in these cases, the New York Times reported.

Microsoft will now "accept responsibility and assume accountability for our anti-piracy work, including the good and the bad," pledged Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel and senior vice president, in a post on the official Microsoft blog Monday morning.

Smith described the New York Times article as depicting "instances in which authorities had used piracy charges concerning Microsoft software to confiscate computers and harass non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others engaged in public advocacy," including instances in which "our own counsel at law firms had failed to help clear things up and had made matters worse instead."

"We want to be clear that we unequivocally abhor any attempt to leverage intellectual property rights to stifle political advocacy or pursue improper personal gain," Smith writes. "We are moving swiftly to seek to remove any incentive or ability to engage in such behavior."

Microsoft's legal officials in Moscow, Paris, London and Seattle met via phone to discuss the Russian anti-piracy issues Sunday morning, and the company "will retain an international law firm that has not been involved in the anti-piracy work to conduct an independent investigation."

Regardless of the investigation's outcome, Microsoft has decided to take a few immediate steps.

"To prevent non-government organizations from falling victim to nefarious actions taken in the guise of anti-piracy enforcement, Microsoft will create a new unilateral software license for NGOs that will ensure they have free, legal copies of our products," Smith writes. This will "fully exonerate any qualifying NGO, by showing that it has a valid license to our software."

Microsoft will also create a legal assistance program for NGOs in Russia to help the organizations document to authorities that they have legal rights to use Microsoft software, and will take actions "against third parties pretending to represent Microsoft in order to extort money for illegal software use."

Microsoft devotes significant financial resources to fighting software piracy, but has sometimes been criticized for being overzealous in the quest to protect its intellectual property.

"Ultimately, our goals are straightforward," Smith writes. "We aim to reduce the piracy and counterfeiting of software, and we aim to do this in a manner that respects fundamental human rights."

Tags intellectual propertyMicrosoftlegalMicrosoft anti-piracysoftwareindustry verticalsgovernment

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jon Brodkin

Network World

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?