Microsoft has decided to go it alone with a new campaign to fight software piracy but denies that it is distancing itself from the BSA.
Last week it launched the Microsoft Foundation Campaign to educate New Zealanders on the importance and bene-fits of protecting intellectual property.
Microsoft believes a third of all software being used in New Zealand is illegal.
While dealer software piracy and counterfeiting remains a major concern, the company believes that up to 60% of New Zealand businesses are using copied software to varying degrees. Microsoft public relations woman Alex Mercer says when dealing with businesses most cases are settled out of court and the business usually pays damages and deletes the unlicensed software.
Microsoft is encouraging the public to pitch in and has set up a hotline for people reporting incidents of software piracy. Unlike the BSA hotline, leads given to the Microsoft number will not result in cash rewards. In return for help from the community Microsoft will donate all net proceeds from anti-piracy enforcement activities back into the community. This will take the form of software and training to schools and educational organisations, says
Asked why the campaign was not being launched under the auspices of the BSA (Business Software Alliance), Mercer says that Microsoft has always had it its own anti-piracy activity in New Zealand.
“We’re just making this one a lot more public,” she says. “If you own the campaign yourself you can control it a lot better. The BSA has decided that member companies will become more active in their own right.”
Mercer says Microsoft New Zealand is still a member of the BSA, a worldwide anti-piracy organisation of software vendors with a New Zealand chapter consisting of Microsoft, Adobe and Autodesk.
“We will still be active with the BSA in terms of law reform and policy but the BSA will not be as prevalent as as it has been in New Zealand.”
She denies that Microsoft is distancing itself from the BSA because of bad publicity the organisation has been getting in some countries. Last November the Brussels Commercial Court banned the BSA from operating as a non-profit organisation in Belgium and its tactics have been called into question in other countries.
However BSA activities in New Zealand are now being controlled direct from BSA world wide headquarters in Washington DC. Sydney-based Ron Eckstrom, who was the BSA vice president has left that position and is now corporate attorney for Microsoft’s South Asia Pacific region.