Posted by David Finn
Associate General Counsel, Worldwide Anti-piracy & Anti-counterfeiting, Microsoft

The past year has been a milestone for Microsoft’s global anti-piracy team in many ways.

We launched global education campaigns that arm consumers with information to protect themselves from the risks of non-genuine software. We continued our investment in developing innovative forensic technologies that track counterfeit activities and criminal syndicates worldwide. Our strategic partnership with local governments made it more difficult for criminal gangs to sell non-genuine software to unsuspecting consumers.

I’m pleased to share that Microsoft was recognized for these efforts by the Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group (GACG). At the Global Anti-Counterfeiting Awards in Paris on June 8, Microsoft received a commendation for our efforts to build awareness and protect consumers from the dangers of software piracy.

At the award ceremony, Yves Lapierre, Director General of the National Institute for Industrial Property, said, “I want to highlight Microsoft’s tremendous effort to raise consumer awareness about the risk of counterfeits. As far as France is concerned, we had several occasions to witness the commitment of the team to push forward IP value and culture.”

We have long recognized that non-genuine software increases the risks of malware infection and identity theft, hurts job creation, funds violent criminal gangs and hampers economic growth. Consumers around the world understand these risks as well, and are increasingly calling on industry and their local governments to take a stronger stand against software piracy. (You can download a recent Microsoft survey on consumer perceptions of software piracy and counterfeiting here.)

We are well aware that there is still much work to be done by everyone, including industry groups, governments and enforcement agencies. According to Business Software Alliance’s 2010 Global Software Piracy Study, the commercial value of software piracy grew 14 percent globally last year to a record total of US$58.8 billion, so we know the stakes are huge.

According to a recent blog post by Brad Smith, general counsel and senior vice president at Microsoft, in order to make the next wave of progress to realize IP value, particularly in countries with persistently high piracy rates and where the rule of law may be less strong, it is reasonable to ask responsible companies to step up to combat piracy.

The need to reduce software piracy around the world is reaching a critical point. Our goal is to protect the intellectual property rights of companies, and help level the playing field for legitimate businesses around the world that play by the rules. To accomplish this, we support new and balanced approaches, such as the one recently taken in Washington State where a new law was passed which addresses the unfair competition that results when technology is stolen and assigns reasonable responsibility to legitimate businesses in a position to act. IT theft and piracy undermines innovation and imperils the global and local economies, and Microsoft will remain on the front line of this issue.