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MS sends notice to six Chennai partners for piracy

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DQW Bureau
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Last week Microsoft issued a notice to six channel partners in Chennai for

indulging in software piracy.

Among them were partners like GBS Systems, Magnum Computers, Modern Computers

and Aeon Marketing. The letter that these partners received stated that they

were being fined an amount ranging from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 8 lakh for piracy.

The letters were sent on Sep 14 and the next day all the partners who got the

letter met with Microsoft's legal wing. In the meeting Microsoft asked each of

the partners to pay a penalty of Rs 18,000. They were also asked to sign a

document admitting that they have pirated the software and will not do so

henceforth. The document also included a clause, according to which, if the

partner is caught again, they will be fined Rs 45 lakh as a penalty.

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Market sources also insist that besides being charged with the

above-mentioned penalty, the partners were also told by the software vendor that

products worth the fine amount levied on them will be billed on their names.

Sources suggest that the software major had strong proofs against all the

accused partners. Microsoft has been working on gathering proofs for the past

few weeks to ascertain the partner's involvement in piracy activities. The

investigation exercise involved getting quotations for buying laptop/desktop in

which a pirated operating system (OS) was installed. This operation was carried

out across Tamil Nadu.

Microsoft has been conducting random surprise checks on other partners in the

state also to gather proof on those selling pirated software. The partners in

question are expected to receive a notice in the coming weeks.

Partners in Chennai, on the other hand, are quiet agitated over Microsoft's

force-selling attempts and lamented that the pricing of its software is too

high. Few also opined that many partners will not be in a position to pay such a

high price for an OS. Also, though there is no action plan in place as of now,

there are talks about pushing Linux into the market.

Expressing his views, PN Prasad, President, Confed-ITA said, “All the branded

machines should come with pre-loaded OS. The price difference between the

systems with/out OS is just about Rs 2,000, whereas, if it is purchased

separately, it costs nearly Rs 7,000. So, the only solution I see for this

problem is selling systems with a pre-loaded and fully functional OS, which will

bring down the piracy to a very large extent.”

When contacted, Vipul Sant, Director, Original Software Initiative said, “It

has been Microsoft's endeavor to work with the reseller community across India

to create a healthy and safe reseller eco-system where genuine software is

adopted as a correct and safe IT business practice. The three pillars of our

outreach are education, engagement and enforcement. Every year, Microsoft sends

periodic letter mailers and EDMs addressed to channel owners and partners to

educate them about the products, problem of software piracy, informing them

about the risks and dangers of indulging in software piracy, both to them as

well as to their customers. As to the second level, we work closely with

approximately 12-13 channel associations across various regions to collaborate

on intellectual property and piracy awareness programs to their member base. We

also conduct periodic market checks to track the behavior of the reseller

community towards genuine software, all in an effort to alert the resellers and

reduce the instances of piracy. Enforcement is only used as a very last resort

where we see consistent instances of piracy detected at a premises. Even in

those cases, we always engage one-to-one with the identified reseller to

understand the problem, seek an explanation/undertaking and to provide inputs on

why their acts of piracy can lead them into legal and financial risks. Very few

cases are taken to the court, where piracy is blatant, large scale and

intentional. Therefore in all, Microsoft always believes in its education

outreach programs and channel engagement models to drive genuine business

behavior to protect their customers and the honest resellers. By far our

programs have given us a considerable good response and we only hope to do

better.”

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