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Tough sentences in China over huge piracy ring: Microsoft


beano

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BEIJING (AFP) â?? A Chinese court has issued tough sentences to members of a huge software counterfeiting ring, which distributed more than two billion dollars' worth of fake Microsoft goods, the company said.

 

The court in the southern city of Shenzhen on Wednesday sentenced 11 people to jail terms of up to six-and-a-half years for making high-quality counterfeit software that was sold in 36 countries, Microsoft said in a statement.

 

The sentences were the "stiffest ever meted out for intellectual property rights violations in China," said a report on the verdicts by the popular Chinese Internet portal Sina.com.

 

The illegal syndicate, based in the southern province of Guangdong, pirated versions of 19 of the company's most popular products, which were produced in at least 11 languages, Microsoft said in its statement posted on Wednesday.

 

Microsoft described the group as the world's biggest software counterfeiting syndicate.

 

The Futian People's Court, which issued the verdicts, could not be reached by AFP on Thursday, a national holiday in China.

 

Ringleaders were arrested in July 2007 by China's Public Security Bureau after a joint investigation with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

 

US officials have previously called the joint effort a milestone in law enforcement cooperation between the two sides, and Microsoft thanked them for their efforts.

 

"Microsoft greatly appreciates the work of China's PSB and the FBI in taking strong enforcement action against this global software counterfeiting syndicate," David Finn, a top Microsoft anti-piracy official, said in the statement.

 

Copyright counterfeiting is rampant in China and a constant irritant in trade ties with the United States.

 

Counterfeit versions of popular foreign movies, brand-name fashions and other products continue to be sold openly in China.

 

Washington filed a case in April 2007 at the World Trade Organisation over widespread copyright piracy in China, a practice that US companies say deprives them of billions of dollars in sales each year.

 

In November, China's assistant commerce minister Chong Quan told US industry and government officials at a gathering in Beijing that Washington must take into account its difficulties as a developing country in tackling copyright breaches.

 

But China also has recently touted tougher anti-piracy laws as evidence of its resolve to crush such violations.

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Probably more a case of the Chinese wanting to appear tough on piracy after sustained pressure from countries like the US. Its one thing to lose billions to pirates when you are making billions - another when the financial thumbscrews begin to tighten back in Redmond/Cupertino.

 

The balance of trade between the US and China has been a thorny point for a while now - much easier to lock up a few scumbag pirates than do anything longterm about the fact that container ships from China to the US dont have to do to many return trips laden with US product for the Chinese market. I have to wonder if the average Chinese will ever get the concept of 'intellectual property' - it may be a battle that Micro$oft can never win.

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OH, I'm not saying that the implementation of IP law by people like M$oft is right and proper, but many Chinese dont seem to comprehend that if you spend years developing a product, I can't just buy one and blatantly copy it, effectively stealing your R&D time and money. Software is a particularly thorny one - it costs them millions to develop a new operating system, and about 30 cents for a CD .... I'd like to see Microsoft and others lower the cost of their software, but I also accept that we are paying for more than a couple of CDs/DVDs and a license key. Same same DVD movies - if everyone went to BKK/Bali/Shenzhen and bought pirated DVDs, why the hell would studios make any new movies ?

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Fact is, people do it now, and the industry survives. Suing welfare recipients for $250K+ doesn't do anyone any good. I agree, "stealing" and reselling is bad...maybe, but sharing is a bit different. The problem is, most people can't or won't afford the real copies.

 

I also feel the developers run up the cost, and thus the high price. In a day and age when cuts and pay concessions are the norm, no reason Silicon Valley/microsoft can't take a bit up the back as well.

 

I see software like I see books...noone bitches if you buy a book, read it, give it away or sell it as used. Say you sell it as used, the book store makes more, maybe they buy and sell the same used book a few times...the author/publisher only gets paid once. Yet with software they raise the roof when someone else uses it or resells it. Seems a bit rediculs after awhile.

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China wants to be recognized as a "player" in the world economy. They have no choice but to start to put the squeeze on the pirate software.

 

I would think that M$ would be beating on the WTO (World Trade Organization) to put the hammer down on China :dunno:

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I see software like I see books...noone bitches if you buy a book, read it, give it away or sell it as used. Say you sell it as used, the book store makes more, maybe they buy and sell the same used book a few times...the author/publisher only gets paid once. Yet with software they raise the roof when someone else uses it or resells it. Seems a bit rediculs after awhile.

 

Well, I agree that sort of use of software should be legal. However, that's not the problem with these chinese pirates. They are photo-copying the book and selling the copies!

 

This whole issue will all be moot when in the next 5-10 years where all of these applications will be online only, and you will be paying to use them as a service.

 

-=/NN

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