CD maker will pay Microsoft for counterfeit software

French CD duplicator to compensate Microsoft for a 'misunderstanding over licenses'

A French CD duplicator has agreed to compensate Microsoft after producing discs with unauthorized copies of Microsoft software, the companies said Tuesday.

In 2003 a Thai subsidiary of the French company MPO Group produced 20,000 counterfeit copies of Microsoft's Exchange and SQL Server products, the software vendor said.

MPO blamed the incident on a misunderstanding over licenses: it had copied the discs for a third party claiming to be licensed by Microsoft to distribute the software, but that license later turned out to be forged, Microsoft said.

Microsoft does not allow its software to be reproduced under a third-party license in that way, it said. MPO has a disk replication agreement directly with Microsoft for other software.

MPO, based in Averton, France, paid Microsoft compensation for the incident, said Audrey Bernal, a spokeswoman for the CD duplicator. Microsoft described the compensation as a "multimillion dollar settlement."

Microsoft tracked down the source of the counterfeit software by making test purchases in Asia and examining the discs. MPO cooperated with the investigation, Microsoft said.

The software vendor warns buyers to look out for certain warning signs to help them identify counterfeit software, including making sure that it comes from a reputable source and looks like the genuine article. It is unclear how those guidelines help in cases such as this, where the disputed discs were copied by a company authorized by Microsoft to duplicate other software.

Although MPO joined the International Recording Media Association's Anti-Piracy Compliance Program in 2005, its plant in Thailand is not yet on the list of IRMA Anti-Piracy Certified Plants.

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Peter Sayer

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