Microsoft has reached out-of-court settlements with five computer resellers that 'fessed up to illegally loading hard disks with pirated software and flogging bootleg programs.
The firms were conveniently named and shamed on Thursday for Play Fair Day – previously dubbed Consumer Action Day – which the industry is using to highlight illegal software sales.
Fleetwood Computers (MRG Distribution) in Derby; Seaford Computer Services East in Sussex; Dinas Computers in Cardiff; Subnet1 of Middlesex; and Durham-based JC Computer Supplies admitted guilt – though settlement details were not disclosed.
“The current economic climate means that for IT resellers, every pound they put in their pocket becomes more important than the last,” said Peter Sketch, director of anti-piracy at Microsoft UK.
Research by that venerable institution the BSA shows UK software piracy levels plateaued at 27 per cent of total sales in recent years, but a reduction of 10 per cent by 2013 would create 13,000 high-tech jobs and add £1.5bn in taxes, it claims.
Software piracy does create an uneven playing field in the channel, making it difficult for legit dealers to ply their trade against those involved in dodgy practices.
Microsoft's piracy police wants scammers to know that it will act on tip-offs from rivals and may come knocking along with Trading Standards.
Redmond's anti-piracy boss said software counterfeiters were becoming increasingly sophisticated – though the five firms collared hardly smack of diamond thieves – and he said Microsoft was "committed" to educating businesses about the danger of piracy.
Sketch said: "[We] are investing in developing new forensic technologies. We’re also supporting government and law enforcement agencies in taking action against software counterfeiters.” ®