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Microsoft expands anti-crackdown licenses to 12 countries

updated 09:20 pm EDT, Sun October 17, 2010

MS auto-granting SW licenses in 12 new countries

Microsoft today expanded on its plans to avoid anti-dissent piracy crackdowns by expanding its coverage to 12 more countries. In addition to Russia, the pledge is now extending to China, Malaysia, Vietnam and eight former Soviet states. The policy will continue as before and automatically grant licenses to Microsoft software for advocacy groups and other non-profits so that piracy can't be used as a pretext to stamp out political opposition.

The effort won't take immediate effect. Microsoft deputy general counsel Nancy Anderson noted that the efforts still have to accommodate the law and receive local translations. Other countries may be included, however.

Microsoft's decision to extend its free licenses to authoritarian or otherwise politically volatile countries came after the New York Times exposed the Windows developer's complicit involvement in suppressing political opposition in these areas. Russian officials used piracy allegations to confiscate computers owned by eco-activism group Baikal Environmental Wave after they opposed the reopening of a polluting factory that the Medvedev administration supported. At the time, lawyers for Microsoft not only ignored attempts to prove that BEW's software was legal but actively supported the crackdown.

Apple and other OS or software developers haven't usually followed suit, though the nature of their OS policies has made it more difficult to use piracy as an excuse. Since a Mac by definition has to ship with legal copies of Mac OS X and iLife already installed, bootlegs are rare. Linux is usually free and open-source and thus can't be pirated.

by MacNN Staff



  1. dynsight

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Good for Microsoft

    I am not the biggest M$ fan, but this is a great policy that should be adopted by all US tech companies (I'm looking at you Google...although you did eventually do the right thing in China...). I understand that companies need to follow the laws in other countries, but when those laws are diametrically opposed to those of the United States, it should be reconsidered.

    I was also very impressed with how QUICKLY Microsoft responded after it was revealed that their license was used to crack down on dissident groups.

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Stop the cold war, prejudicial language

    This is one of those accusations that gets repeated verbatim, without fact checking.

    A "dissident" group - lets put a name on that, for starters, because you are using cold war style language. Greenpeace - that's a dissident group. PETA - that being a dissident group.

    So the environmental group wants you to shutdown a factory because they say it pollutes the air.

    Maybe - they are right, lets say for the sake of argument it does pollute. The fact is, its hard to shut down factories and make people unemployed in this economny - referring to the worldwide economy.

    So the environmental activist group happens to get audited for stealing software - which they were certainly doing. The group is well known for using any tactic they can think of to stop factories from running - from threats, to sabotage, to legitimate things like sit-ins, demonstrations, etc.

    They sieze on this audit to claim repression - ah-ha, right. Sure.

    I think Microsoft did the right thing - give away your software to non-profits, why not.
    No need to get involved in the 'bad behavior' of these quarrelling sides - the fact is, in some countries when people disagree they don't do so respectfully. They resort to any tactic they think might get some press.

    Whether you know it or not, some environmental group claiming repression will certainly get press in the West - the fact is the West is still looking for cold war style stories, and they get a lot of play here.
    Very few people check anything and it all fits right into their assumptions and makes a great story.

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Google, Microsoft, Apple

    Google - withdrew from China over censorship, found an acceptable compromise to have uncensored content come out of Hong Kong

    Microsoft - gives away its license to non-profits

    Apple - cooperates with the Chinese government , for example to censor Dalai Lama apps from the App store. Hasn't modified their behavior in any way.

  1. nat

    Joined: Dec 1969



    not sure what point you're trying to make. obeying the laws of the land and doing what microsoft did is not the same thing. read the original times piece.

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