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Microsoft Uses WGA To Obtain Record Jail Sentences

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the zomg-i-can-ping-my-router dept.

Microsoft 311

theodp writes "According to Microsoft, 'No information is collected during the [Genuine Advantage Program] validation process that can be used to identify or contact a user.' That's little comfort to the software counterfeiters who were just handed jail sentences ranging from 1.5-6.5 years by the Futian People's Court in China, especially since Microsoft contends that much of the estimated $2B in bogus software was detected by its Windows Genuine Advantage program. 'Software piracy negatively impacts local economic growth,' explained Microsoft VP Fengming Liu in a celebratory New Year's Eve press release. But then again, so does transferring $16B of assets and $9B in annual profit to an Irish tax haven, doesn't it?"

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311 comments

GOOD! (5, Interesting)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290473)

Seriously, There is a persisting writeup from a japanese LUG years ago talking about how pirated copies of windows cannibalize the linux userbase and dev base.

Pirated windows is the bane of linux, and I applaud microsoft for slitting their own throat by pursuing windows counterfeiters.

Re:GOOD! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26290549)

Could you provide the link?

  I have thought about this for a while, 'free' software here doesn't make much sense as windows vista cost less than 1$, and 98%+ software here are pirated.

  Our government is switching to FLOSS software, and I think stopping piracy in my country will be a good thing to FLOSS.

Re:GOOD! (4, Informative)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290625)

Could you provide the link?

  I have thought about this for a while, 'free' software here doesn't make much sense as windows vista cost less than 1$, and 98%+ software here are pirated.

  Our government is switching to FLOSS software, and I think stopping piracy in my country will be a good thing to FLOSS.

It seems the original was finally taken down in leu of more recent entries, but it has been mirrored verbatim elsewhere [autotelic.com] if you wish to take a look

Not good! (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290861)

What you're basically saying is that just one raid justifies MS annoying all of us legitimate users and treating us like criminals.

Re:Not good! (5, Insightful)

Starayo (989319) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291059)

I'm using an illegitimate copy of XP right now. My genuine copy lies at the bottom of my desk drawer, rendered useless by the asshats that decided to make small hardware changes require reauthorisation, using up my allotted attempts. After getting no help at all from customer service I downloaded and installed a cracked copy in less than the time than it took for customer service to answer my bloody call...

I am now certain to exterminate WGA from any and all computers I come into contact with.

Re:Not good! (1)

ixidor (996844) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291375)

same here, almost. i have 2 legit copies in my cd folder. i spent all day with nlite burning copies with different drivers for the sata controller. i finally just used the pirate copy i have, it install 95% of my driver, and loads of software after the fact i use. how was 45 min loading pirate easier than all day with no floppy and no way to use the legit copy better ?

Re:Not good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26291377)

I am in the same situation. Turns out the pirated version is less of a hassle! It was a good lesson. Too bad I had to waste money on a legitimate version to learn it.

Keep Going. (0, Troll)

twitter (104583) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291459)

I am now certain to exterminate WGA from any and all computers I come into contact with.

Sooner or later, you won't be able to do that and right now you can't trust underhanded coppies. That is the ultimate crime of non free software - not being able to share software and change the way your computer works. You can't be sure people will always be able to remove malicious features from Windows and you can never be sure that new malicious features have not been added in their place. A better solution is to move on to free software where the whole world can verify code integrity and you are removed from legal threats from what you describe as "asshats".

Re:Not good! (1)

jopsen (885607) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291509)

If you don't like how MS treats to choose another vendor... Isn't that how the free market works?

Re:GOOD! (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291271)

That's been obvious for years. I imagine many people can still recite a Windows 98 key from memory.
Office 97 spread virally the same way.

As far as I'm concerned, Windows should become more bloated, more annoying, and harder to maintain. Geeks can handle it and make a few shekels on the side, while users will be pushed to other operating systems.

Indeed, windows 7 beta on bittorrent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26291495)

Although I agree that the m$ veep is trying to sound very goody goody by talking about hurting the local economy, he means that they are reducing m$ sales and the Chinese Govt is under some kind of pressure to act on m$'s urgings, given the political and economic state of affairs between China and the US.
However, I can say from my personal experience that Microsoft products are very poor in design, deliberately made so, to make people come back due to lock-in, and of course the fact that they are closed source - remember, programmers need to be paid to change bad programs even if the source code is available.
Towards the end of 2007, one macroserf admitted on stage that piracy had helped them gain revenues.
A decade or so ago, billy boy had lectured a group of students (must have been lawyers) at the Washington Univ. and mentioned that as long as PCs are being sold out there we want our software to be on those PCs, paid or free. WE'll first get them used to our software and then figure out how to recover the money.
Billy boy said that in a lecture on stage before a class of graduating students.
I've seen several local companies burn out in the face of "free software" from Microsoft. You cannot compete with zero-price!
The most important thing I have against Microsoft, which you cannot deny whichever way you look at it is that Microsoft encourages theft and corruption by using licenses of this type and using tactics of this kind.
The license is so restrictive that a relatively small error (or maybe actually a good deed of sharing code) becomes a legal crime.
And it pricks you at the back of your mind at all the time. If you are not the "conscientious" type, you learn to NOT reward the programmer for his work - you want to snatch everything for free and you want to pride yourself over not being caught stealing. That makes you a slimy corrupt sub-human creature.
All because Microsoft offers such a drastic pair of options.
They make you choose between your exploitation and your slow corruption.
That is worse than most bad things you could do as an ordinary civilian person.
As RMS says, they present you with a moral dilemma.

The fitting reply would be to present Microsoft with a dilemma - you have the money Warren Buffett donated - you pay it for the poor or else......
Note that since we do not wish to stoop down to the level of Microsoft we should not present Microsoft with a dilemma guaranteed to make Microsoft the loser. Instead it should guarantee that we, or everyone, is the winner.

The question is, how do you effectively force such a dilemma down the throat of Redmond.

Assignment for this weekend.

Best suggestions will be rewarded with virtually transferred but real gratitude. :-)

The moral of the story... (1, Insightful)

Techmeology (1426095) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290481)

The moral of the story is: don't trust a commercialistic company not to try to gain advantage - any way it can. Especially Microsoft.

Re:The moral of the story... (2, Insightful)

Tx (96709) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290543)

No. "Ireland's low corporate tax rate of 12.5% on trading profits has been a magnet for multinational companies..."

The moral of the story is "Lower your taxes, and they shall come."

Re:The moral of the story... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26290579)

We can't all be tax-havens. It is only useful to small countries that can exist on the small transfer fees of enormous corporations from other countries.

Re:The moral of the story... (0, Troll)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290691)

No, you are right.

Some of us have massive social welfare programs, lifestyle subsidies, and wealth re-distributions to pay for.

You are under no obligation to arrange your affairs to MAXIMIZE your tax burden.

Re:The moral of the story... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26291025)

No, you are right.

Some of us have massive social welfare programs, lifestyle subsidies, and wealth re-distributions to pay for.

You are under no obligation to arrange your affairs to MAXIMIZE your tax burden.

I can tell you're one of those Republican types who actually believe you work harder for the life you currently have than those who have less than you. That because you were priveleged enough to have advantages, such as a family with the resources to send you to college, you somehow deserve more than those who couldn't go.

Re:The moral of the story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26291127)

Do you really believe that you have to be privileged to go to college? Most college graduates worked, saved and borrowed to go college. Most strong families are not "priviledged" either. All good parents want their kids to go to college.

You have no right for disadvantage compensation (1)

temcat (873475) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291169)

Having some disadvantage, such as no family with the resources to send you to college, doesn't mean you are somehow entitled to be compensated for that disadvantage from the pockets of other people. Life is not meant to be fair, live with it. You CAN get some compensation if somebody chooses to do it for you as a gift or privilege, and that's perfectly fine - you just have no RIGHTS to that effect.

Re:You have no right for disadvantage compensation (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26291415)

Which is a completely bollocks idea, if you ask me. Ultimately, if we can send more people to college, our society as a whole will improve. How many people end up in crime because they either didn't have the resources to, or weren't encouraged by peers, family, and so on? I think if you do the math, the "pockets of others" will be more taxed now than if we were to be able to send a lot more people to college.

Not to mention we're h-u-m-a-n. Most of us have compassion and empathy with others. Live may not be fair and perhaps it never will be, but at the very least we can try to make it /more/ fair.

Being able to make a good career, get rich, and what not, is good.. But ultimately we're all impacted if only a small minority can achieve this goal.

Re:The moral of the story... (2, Interesting)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291359)

I'm in college right now. My dad makes about $27k a year supporting his wife and my brother. He makes just enough that I don't get shit from the government via FAFSA. I'm working as many hours as I can pick up in a worker-saturated college town that exists around the college, and only going to school at about 3/4 time.

Where is my advantage again?

Re:The moral of the story... (2, Insightful)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290731)

We can't all be tax-havens. It is only useful to small countries that can exist on the small transfer fees of enormous corporations from other countries.

*And* that are financed by huge subsidies by their rich neighbours so that they can be brought kicking and screaming in the century of the fruitbat. Although the whole tax-haven thing isn't so popular lately.

Re:The moral of the story... (1)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291361)

It's the other way around: we don't NEED all be tax-havens.

Some countries have enough advantages to be attractive for corporate centers without tax breaks.

On the other hand, some countries don't spend billions on crap and therefore can simply afford lower taxes.

Re:The moral of the story... (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290699)

Every US taxpayer should be outraged. If it weren't for practices such as these, the individual tax payer wouldn't have the burden it suffers today. If companies like these were to pay their taxes rather than hide from them with schemes like these, you would be a lot more free to enjoy the money you earn. And this isn't even about "Hate Microsoft." This is about what I suspect all large companies do.

Re:The moral of the story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26290957)

No - if it weren't for skyrocketing government spending on wealth redistribution and corporate and financial bailouts, the individual taxpayer wouldn't have the burden it suffers today. Don't blame corporations for finding legal ways to shield themselves from taxes. At least they are legal.

If you are looking for outrage look to the individual taxpayer who doesn't report any cash based transaction. Business that do cash under the table. Service employees who only report 10% of tips. A study estimated that up to 40% of commerce in L.A. county is under the radar.

Why is it that outrage over tax-evasion is focused only on big corporations for exercising legal choices while your neighbour may be "cheating" the government out of thousands in taxes each year? If the millions of individual taxpayers actually had to pay what they were supposed to, you would see an immediate change in how government spends money. Cheating only makes the problem worse!

Re:The moral of the story... (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291403)

I was liking you in the first paragraph, but that turned around in the 2nd.

I agree government spending is completely out of control (even though I'm a socialist). However, I do not believe citizens should be policed and taxed on every little thing ever. I firmly believe that taxes should be fixed per person, regardless of whether you are rich or poor. Too poor (read: unable/unwilling to work) to afford the tax ? Move to a cheaper country! Corporate tax should also be fixed, and commensurate to the ensemble of services provided to corporations by the government.

Basically you generalize the common aspects, average out the cost and that becomes your tax. None of this percentage tax bullshit that is little more than roundabout usury.

Does it really cost 30-40% of a millionaire's "salary" to provide clean water, maintain roads and absolutely pathetic police protection ? No, it doesn't. Nor does it cost 30-40% of a blue-collar's 30k salary. Most people could hire their own part-time staff for less than that...

Re:The moral of the story... (3, Insightful)

camg188 (932324) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291249)

For corporations, taxes are a cost of doing business. The cost of doing business get passed to the consumer.
Wouldn't a better paradigm be to have low corporate taxes to get more corporations to move into your local economy and supply more jobs?

Also, I'd rather have taxpayers know more exactly what their true tax burden is. It is not in the citizen's best interest to have a corporation pay a tax and then have the consumer reimburse the corporation for the tax by paying higher prices for goods and services. How can you make an informed decision about a government's budget if you don't know what the true tax burden is?

Re:The moral of the story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26290727)

No need for a comma between a term and the word 'and'

Re:The moral of the story... (4, Insightful)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290951)


No the moral of the story is if Microsoft's actions are even potentially open to not being condemned (i.e. preventing the loss of billions of dollars of revenue), then tack on a completely separate story just in case.

Re:The moral of the story... (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291071)

This is the same rule as 'lower your price to gain more customers'. Corporations cost money to taxpayers to support. Roads, hospitals, schools, utilities, emergency services, military protection, etc. are all expected by corporations as part of local services. Lower the taxes too far, and those huge business moving to your nation will bleed you dry.

WGA forum (5, Insightful)

nstrom (152310) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290487)

I'm betting that a good amount of the information used in this case came from posters on the WGA forum [microsoft.com] , where people can post if they're having issues with WGA. One of the tools available in that forum is a WGA diagnostic tool [microsoft.com] which will generate a sanitized text dump of a user's windows validation information. Most cases on that forum are people whose brother, cousin, or sketchy PC shop installed a common warez release of Windows on their systems, but several there are people who bought apparently legitimate software from resellers which failed validation and later turned out to be counterfeit. Microsoft got in touch with these users, identified the resellers, and I'm betting that this news story is the result.

Re:WGA forum (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26290895)

I bet it's just that MS was replacing the copies for folks who'd been duped in exchange for the info of where they obtained the pirated version, then just followed the chain backwards.

Er, did WGA really do much there? (2, Interesting)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290489)

Sounds to me like they were just bragging that WGA actually noticed when a user had a counterfeit copy, not that it had any effect on the sentence.

Re:Er, did WGA really do much there? (4, Insightful)

jd142 (129673) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290751)

Right. If the submitter had actually read the article, this would have jumped out at him:

"The counterfeits were also discovered through customs seizures"

The fact that *after* they had seized the software, WGA was capable of detecting it when installed is just pr for WGA and not an indication that WGA is sending personal information to MS. It may or may not being doing that, but you couldn't prove it by this article.

If you really want to see what WGA is sending to Microsoft, just capture the packets on their way to the internet and see what's being sent. Has anyone done that and found anything of real interest?

Re:Er, did WGA really do much there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26290901)

I got your mom to sniff my packet and she got the whole load!

Re:Er, did WGA really do much there? (1)

jrothwell97 (968062) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291379)

As I understand it, WGA was simply used to identify the copies of the software, and probably also the master from which all the counterfeit copies were made. From then on it's simply a matter of hunting down the person who owns the master copy.

Tenuous Summary (1)

Toreo asesino (951231) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290493)

WGA exists to bug users that have stolen the software and so Microsoft has an overall clue about how many people have stolen the software, not go after specifics.

I remember seeing a report from Microsoft saying they knew for a fact that 1 in 3 corporate machines were stolen. If they wanted to target for the purposes of bringing them to court it wouldn't exactly be difficult; they just want to irritate thieves and have an idea how many rogue copies there are.

Re:Tenuous Summary (4, Informative)

Tx (96709) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290561)

In this case it sounds like we're talking about commercially-pirated-and-passed-off-as-genuine software, rather than end-user-pirated software.

FTA: The counterfeit software was found in 36 countries and 11 different languages. It was so sophisticated that it contained legitimate computer code written by Microsoft for programs such as Windows XP and Vista and Microsoft Office, but also had touches of the criminals' own coding as well. That was allegedly added to mimic security programs and fool users into believing the product was authentic.

So it may actually be the case that some of the end users actually thought they had authentic products, and were alerted by WGA. I doubt this happens often, but Microsoft is bound to mention it if it does happen.

Re:Tenuous Summary (3, Interesting)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290671)

I work in computer repair, and a lot of our customers get the WGA notification that warns them they've "stolen" software when they just haven't actually run the check correctly. If anything fails during a windows update, it's likely to pop up. And god forbid a windows update fails due to random reason #2358. Personally, I'd like them to be a bit more accurate.

People call my store all the time accusing us of giving them stolen software. I explain that they have an OEM sticker on their PC and we'd never do that, but heck, Microsoft might get them to buy a second or third copy- so maybe that was their plan.

Re:Tenuous Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26290781)

Congratulations! You have successfully completed your corporate brainwashing!

commercially-pirated-and-passed-off-as-genuine software

Also known as pirated software.

end-user-pirated software

Also known as copied software, but only known as "pirated" to big media companies (and sheeple who lack critical thinking skills) trying to vilify any sharing, even not-for-profit copies.

Just wait till a Chinese Co breaks the GPL (4, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290495)

And a lot of you guys will be screaming murder. Have you realized that GPL enforcement and Windows license enforcement comes from the same thing as Copyright law?

Re:Just wait till a Chinese Co breaks the GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26290527)

I can't see why you'd have to wait. It's not even hard finding a US company breaking the GPL, and its not hard finding a Chinese one doing so without being able to understand a bit of Chinese and actually knowing where you click...

Re:Just wait till a Chinese Co breaks the GPL (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26290619)

Freetard, I wrote that you asswipes will be the first to scream and squeal when someone posts about some GPL being "abused", and so mob out the rope, but when MSFT cracks its whip on chinese pirates, you freetards complain of MSFT's heavy handedness. I know you don't see this hypocracy, but I only wanted to show how stupid you are.

Re:Just wait till a Chinese Co breaks the GPL (2, Insightful)

init100 (915886) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290835)

Have you realized that GPL enforcement and Windows license enforcement comes from the same thing as Copyright law?

There is one big difference though: Microsoft often comes after end users of its software, while GPL enforcement never concerns use. GPL enforcement is only directed at companies and organizations that distribute the code further without fulfilling the license obligations, specifically the requirement of source code availability.

Who are you talking too? (3, Interesting)

Paradigm_Complex (968558) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291103)

Most GPL && Linux fans in the audience welcome Microsoft's efforts to crack down on Windows piracy. People who are using pirated copies of Windows are using Windows drivers and Windows applications and Windows games and overall increasing Windows market-share. If someone is not using Windows (pirated or otherwise), they'll be much more likely to jump towards Linux - especially if they're looking for a free(-of-charge) OS. The GPL fans should be cheering at such suicidal actions from Microsoft.

/.'s arguments against WGA (and other sorts of DRM) have more to do with how it treats the legitimate end-users rather than getting software without cost/payment. There isn't really anything comparable with GPL'd software, what with how the GPL is specifically designed to avoid such things.

Micro$oft lie? (1)

smallfeet (609452) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290513)

So did MS lie when they assured me that no personal information was collected when I installed WGA?
(RTFA)
Maybe not. Oh well, so much for a massive class action.

Re:Micro$oft lie? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26290809)

The summary said they handed jail sentences to counterfeiters. It says nothing about users. So they probably collected information about how many copies of a certain Windows are used, and based on that the counterfeiters are sentenced. You don't need to identify the actual user for that.

Even the word "counterfeiters" suggests that the users here are victims and not culprits.

Ratting on suppliers (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291341)

So did MS lie when they assured me that no personal information was collected when I installed WGA?

As I understand it, WGA includes a tool to submit an anonymous tip against your supplier. So it collects no personal information about you but instead about your supplier.

Re:Micro$oft lie? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291523)

In order, the beneficiaries of class action lawsuits are:

The lawyers. -- the majority beneficiary. The lawyers from both sides are the only ones to actually receive noticeable returns

The companies -- the class action absolves them from any further liability for the thing being sued over.

The coffee shops -- where the lawyers meet to discuss strategies and flirt with comely baristas.

And.. that's it I guess. oh, if you're a member of the class, you might get a coupon for a free donut or $5 off your next purchase of $25 or more.

Theft (4, Insightful)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290545)

"But then again, so does transferring $16B of assets and $9B in annual profit to an Irish tax haven, doesn't it?"

What's the point of adding that statement? So it's OK to steal from someone who is "rich" or who has a shrewd accountant?

I don't like Microsoft any more than the next guy, but winking at large scale theft of their product because they somehow "deserve it" is just plain wrong.

Cheers,

Re:Theft (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26290565)

The purpose of the statement was to expose as hypocritical MS claims about the effects of software piracy on local economies.

Please do try and keep up at the back of the class.

Re:Theft (2, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290889)

The purpose of the statement was to expose as hypocritical MS claims about the effects of software piracy on local economies. Please do try and keep up at the back of the class.

So you're saying paying taxes is the same as putting money into the local economy? I must have missed that lesson...

Re:Theft (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291543)

Paying local taxes is a consequence of keeping money in the local economy.

In order to avoid the taxes, companies are sending the money out of the local economy. Perversly, people seem to blame the companies for this and not the taxes.

Re:Theft (0, Flamebait)

Like2Byte (542992) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290655)

I think you missed the key point of the statement..."Irish tax haven." Basically, Microsoft is allegedly using offshore accounts as a tax haven. Opps, you don't understand that term. Microsoft is allegedly stealing money from the US Government by using accounts that are inaccessible to the feds while complaining to the feds that software pirates are the bane of Microsoft's^H^H^H^H^H^H$oft's existence.

As for "...stealing from the rich." Be serious. M$ is stealing from the poor. Us poor tax payers, that is. Clear now? KBye.

Re:Theft (1, Flamebait)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290693)

They are only "stealing money from the US Government" if they are breaking the law. Are you implying they are breaking the law? Are you too stupid to realize they have a fiduciary duty to maximize shareholder profit? Are you one of those dumb assholes who thinks it's a "patriotic duty" to give your money to the govt so they can mismanage it?

Redundant but necessary reply: (5, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290827)

Microsoft says pirating software takes money from local economies! (read: pirates are stealin' America's money!!1one)

Microsoft uses an Irish tax haven to keep billions of their dollars out of reach of the American tax man.

If you don't see the hypocrisy in that, please read:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypocrisy [wikipedia.org]

Re:Theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26290865)

Give it up. You aren't impressing anyone.

Re:Theft (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291003)


Are you too stupid to realize they have a fiduciary duty to maximize shareholder profit?

Are you too stupid to realize that there's more to life than "maximizing shareholder profit", and that corporations should be held to ethical standards?

Has it really become acceptable to publicly call for, and expect people to grub all the money they possibly can with no regard to the society you live in? It's a sad state of affairs when one person criticizes another for not being greedy enough. I understand corporations will try to get away with what they will, but that doesn't mean we have to berate others for being critical of said corporations for being douche-bags.

Re:Theft (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291305)

1. Microsoft benefits from many government programs, such as the H1B visa program. If MS doesn't like it here, there is no reason the US government should further subsidize Microsoft by selectively letting anyone MS wants to hire move to the head of the line to enter this country. If Microsoft plays hardball to maximize its profits, then the Government should play hardball to do its proper job as well,or are you one of those idiots too stupid to realize that the government has a duty to control immigration?
        Oh, and the courts! That's the US government too, prosecuting those pirates. If Microsoft isn't willing to pay the US an equal share of taxes to get legal services any more, why are my taxes subsidizing their legal protection? If the shareholder's profit comes from getting my taxes to cover their operating costs, then damn every single shareholder to the deepest pits of Hell for the crooks they are.
        Or are you implying that they aren't stealing unless the government (which you despise) agrees with the old fashioned definition of theft I just offered. Kind of a catch 22 that - 'The Government is a bunch of people who mismanage everything, but common people shouldn't call theft what it is unless the government agrees with them'. If you don't trust the government any more than your post indicates, why in hell do you think we should all just blindly follow that same government in closing an eye to theft?

2. The fiduciary duty to maximize profits is a legal term, defined by the very US government you knock. It's half a phrase, the other half being "within the accepted limits of proper corporate citizenship, and in accordance with the specifics of its charter". No stockholder can successfully sue MS for not violating its charter with the state (by relocating assets where they fall under the control of a foreign government, and coincidentally might be subject to that government's political instabilities). Interestingly, Ireland does not have a body of legal doctrine recognizing a corporation's duty to maximize shareholder profit. Are you one of those dumb assholes who thinks overseas banking and other people's sovereign nations are regulated by the US government?

Re:Theft (1)

hugetoon (766694) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290925)

When you put it that way it may seem wrong indeed.

Now please consider the facts from the following perspective:

- I do not need any of M$ products for any particular feature they may provide and I'm perfectly happy with free alternatives...
- Except when I have to exchange with the part of the universe that is captive of M$ formats
- There is so much of people that are captive because M$ have a monopoly
- The M$ created it's monopoly by resorting to illegal activities (convicted guilty in multiple courts)

In this situation I believe that I'm entitled to use M$ products for free in order to achieve interoperability.

Re:Theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26291315)

Let's see, the subject is theft here, so I bought 3 different versions of Microtrash and only one worked but still had thousands of bugs.
Huh, who's doing the stealing?
Oh yea, I used to be an altuistic christian once until I walked out the school doorway and stepped into the real world.

IK of IKEA (0, Flamebait)

Alexei (548402) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290571)

Bill G.'s just learned from Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA and also one of the richest men in the world, about how there's nothing as good as avoiding taxes.

Local economic impact (4, Insightful)

mgkimsal2 (200677) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290577)

'Software piracy negatively impacts local economic growth,'

And buying Microsoft software takes money out of local economies and sends it to Redmond. (And buying Apple software does the same thing, but to Cupertino).

I say that using non-free software can also negatively impact local economies, but people do it anyway.

Really, answering my own post here, it's not just as black and white as that. Companies using open source would help energize their local economy by using local companies/consultants, but often they don't. And companies using MS software, while spending for it, may use local companies/consultants as well, keeping some of the money local.

However, in the case of real large scale piracy, it's the worst of both worlds, because money has left the local economy, and not gone to the rightful owners (in this case, Microsoft).

Re:Local economic impact (1)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290687)

I'm also curious to know how MS invests in the local economy. To me, local means city or town. So maybe they sell professional services through local reps but to me this is really a profit center that can't practically be served by Redmond because of language or cultural barriers.

It would be interesting to see a ratio between local investments by MS and "piracy" rates based on WGA data.

Re:Local economic impact (1)

mgkimsal2 (200677) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291111)

They provide an ecosystem which allows local professionals to earn a living (developers doing .net stuff, etc.) However, it often entails a lot of money leaving the area (licensing costs) when *decent* equivalents exist. Lot of open source stuff just doesn't cut the mustard, but plenty of it does.

Re:Local economic impact (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291537)

They provide an ecosystem which allows local professionals to earn a living (developers doing .net stuff, etc.)

In which case, it's the use of Windows which is important regardless of whether it's a legal or pirated copy of windows being used.

Re:Local economic impact (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291397)

The legal definition of 'local' is more likely to be the whole state where Microsoft makes its headquarters (Possibly for companies taking advantage of things such as Delaware's liberal incorporation rules, the headquarters rule is replaced with wherever they are incorporated). If the company gets any tax advantages for a branch office, factory or other physical presences being located in some other particular state, again, the definition of local is normally the whole state. Unless a city or town (or county) can wave enough local taxes to attract a business, it's too small a unit to be considered local in the legal sense.
    This doesn't mean all benefits have to be spread out equally. For example, most MS employees in Washington live in or near Redmond, shop in that area, and if they are home owners pay county taxes there, and there's not so much benefit for a county on the other end of the state, but the whole state presumably benefits to a variable extent. The rest of the country presumably indirectly benefits from Washington being a more stable and prosperous state, and the whole world presumably indirectly benefits eventually, but the primary benefit is legally at the state level.

Re:Local economic impact (3, Insightful)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291023)

OT, I know, but God I hate manager speak.

Why do they say "negatively impacts" when "harms" is a better word?

Software piracy harms local economic growth.

Re:Local economic impact (4, Funny)

couchslug (175151) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291225)

"OT, I know, but God I hate manager speak."

Me too. It's time we pushed beyond it to embrace a new paradigm.

Biased summary (or: business as usual on Slashdot) (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26290615)

The summary appears to suggest that Microsoft was lying about WGA not collecting personal information, otherwise I just can't see why that statement appeared in the summary at all.

Unfortunately, the facts don't support that accusation. All we know is that WGA was used to count how many users had a particular counterfeit copy of Windows; this does not require any identifying information, just a license key. Microsoft then determined through other means that this particular copy originated with a particular pirate group (and yes, piracy is the correct term here).

I also fail to see what Microsoft's accounting practices have to do with this story. Is the submitter trying to suggest that a wrong committed by Microsoft somehow negates its right to seek justice in court? That's not how it works.

Obligatory disclaimer: I'm no more of a Microsoft fan than anyone here, but biased, sensationalist story-telling pisses me off.

Re:Biased summary (or: business as usual on Slashd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26290769)

seek justice in court

LOL how is that supposed to work? The one winning in court is the one who can afford the better lawyer. At least where I live.

Re:Biased summary (or: business as usual on Slashd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26291213)

Could you please put your comment into the context?

Are you suggesting the counterfeiers did something just and are screwed by big Microsoft because it has more money?

WTF? (4, Informative)

gazbo (517111) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290621)

Did the person who submitted this story even read it before writing the summary? Did Taco even bo...actually, I'll not waste time finishing that sentence.

Short version for those who can't be bothered to RTFA: WGA doesn't send personally identifiable data, and the people sentenced were not end users but pirates (yeah, I said pirates. Suck it bitches.) who sold on illegal copies.

Re:WTF? (1)

slash.duncan (1103465) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290851)

WTF? Did /you/ even read the summary? It never said anything about sending users' identifiable data to MS, rather the opposite in fact, noting that MS claims it does NOT collect said user identifiable data. The summary says nothing about the users going to jail, either, but rather the large-scale copyright violators who supplied the software in the first place -- which is what you were claiming too, except you said the summary said different. Can't you tell the difference between the words "software counterfeiters" and "users"? TFS didn't say or even imply they were the same people, or that MS violated its claim.

Meanwhile, as a formerly loyal MS user, now confirmed Linux user who has MS to thank for forcing my move to the land of software freedom, I wish them good luck in their efforts! Every counterfeit software user is an otherwise potential Linux user. Meanwhile, the hassle of being treated like criminals even when your software is legit can be very convincing motivation to look for something else to do the job without the risk. Ask Ernie Ball about that. Then there's the guys like that Russian school principle who just got caught in the middle, and who now is behind a movement to switch schools to Linux so others in his position don't have to worry about it.

Re:WTF? (2, Insightful)

gazbo (517111) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290923)

There is no point whatsoever to the first sentence of the summary except to imply that data is being sent:

"According to researchers, 'there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism.' That's little comfort to Joe and Mary Blogs whose son has been diagnosed with autism."

Why mention the MMR vaccine at all unless you want to suggest a link? Same with the reference to personally identifiable data in the summary.

Taxes (4, Insightful)

The AtomicPunk (450829) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290627)

It's hard to blame Microsoft for moving money offshore to avoid taxes, we're the idiots that tax the hell out of our populace and our companies and think no bad could ever come from it. Perhaps if we were a bit more supportive of success rather than spending $700B - $1,700B rewarding failure ...

Insufficient regulation to block it. (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290665)

It's hard to blame Microsoft for moving money offshore to avoid taxes, we're the idiots that tax the hell out of our populace and our companies and think no bad could ever come from it

The problem is that the US won't close the loopholes they use.

Close the loophole, send a few shots across the bow of the tax havens and get them to cooperate. A lot of these tax havens have one problem - they're too easy to take over.

Re:Insufficient regulation to block it. (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290985)

"Take over"? You want to threaten an EU member state with military action?

Typical attitude.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26291607)

Umm, sorry, but that "we're fat so we can bully the crap out of anyone else" attitude is what got you into trouble in the first place - because you will alienate everyone else. And guess whose help you need now your own people have stolen money from the planet, supported by what only can be called a corrupt government?

Here's a bit of truth for you. The whole reason the war in Iraq was REALLY started was because Saddam had converted currency holdings and oil sales to Euro and was making a serious profit as a consequence. The US Government badly needed an excuse to stop this because it would have ended the use of the US dollar as fiat currency for energy purchases, throwing a large nuke into the US ability to just borrow money at will and spend as, well, complete idiots.

The Bush era started with a budget surplus, built on Clinton's ability to forge partnerships and collaborate - the guiding principle was that you only trade with those who you can trust (to a degree). The Bush club has in 8 years turned your surplus into the largest black hole ever seen in an economy, and the slack law enforcement that was required to make this happen without most of the perpetrators rot in jail has left the door open for all sorts of other scams, sub-prime and the Murdoff case being just two of them. And that wonderful attitude has then torn the rest of the world with it.

So, Mr Bully, your lot indicted a president because he lied about something that was humanly embarrassing but didn't affect the country. Yet Bush & cronies escape unscathed despite clearly lying about WMD, nuking the economy and the standing of the nation and bringing misery to virtually all Americans (don't tell me you don't feel the effects).

Now about tax havens. You must be a little bit more precise in your description, because not all locations are tax havens. Most economies that hold money have processes that can be started to track down tax dodgers - but as the US has demonstrated in the UBS case, it prefers to ignore any agreement it has ever made (with the attitude you displayed). The problem is that that tries to impose US law on a sovereign state, and the "crime" fighting is thus far less effective as when the US would do as agreed (it would also inspire a degree of trust in the US, the inability to follow any agreement is what causes a lot of US businesses to miss out on business which is now picked up elsewhere). The US is not alone in this, the formal purchase of stolen Liechtenstein data by the German tax authorities is about to come home to roost - because those who can simply leave the country completely, taking their money with them. In other words, you lose those who can pay a lot of tax.

Oh, and there is another little problem which Germany has been reminded of (and I suspect the US will be as well): in Switzerland, AFAIK the government appears to get by on an overall tax burden of about 30..35% and everything works. In Germany, the tax pressure is almost double that and service sucks - major league. This is why the German government makes a lot of noise about tax havens that aren't - the local realities are too embarrassing to gain frontpage coverage. You may notice a parallel with the US health services here.

Now go and learn about real life. It's hard in your country, I know, because most of what you get is BS. Once you have learned to think for yourself you may open your mouth again. Oh, and if you want to bomb another country, think first. Working with the country may be (a) cheaper and (b) you may not need to watch your back all the time.

ridiculous (2, Interesting)

toby (759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290987)

Microsoft is a convicted criminal enterprise. It beats the hell out of the rest of us why Americans remain so unconcerned about the vast scale of their theft, not to mention the tax evasion - and continue to let them get away with it and even defend them... No wonder your house of cards is collapsing...

WGA's Role is Vague (0, Flamebait)

KwKSilver (857599) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290659)

Microsoft contends that much of the bogus software was detected by its Windows Genuine Advantage program, which is automatically installed on users' machines.

This could mean anything. It could mean, as others have said above,

a) that people's s/w just failed validation and the people complained to MS, leading to the case(s) breaking, or

b) that WGA fingered the specific computers and the PRC police took care of the rest.

MS officially denies b, but one suspects that it wants you to believe it, whether it is true or not, as they seem to want people to fear them. The question becomes, does you believe MS when they assure you that personal information is not collected? Those paragons of honesty? Who could doubt their sacred word? Have they ever been less than 100% honest? I might believe MS--if they swore to it on a 10,000 meter high stack of $100 bills, which is probably the only thing sacred to MS.

Local growth (2, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290689)

'Software piracy negatively impacts local economic growth,' explained Microsoft VP Fengming Liu in a celebratory New Year's Eve press release. But then again, so does transferring $16B of assets and $9B in annual profit to an Irish tax haven, doesn't it?"

Yes, it does. So, the natural solution to this is to give corporations incentives to keep their money local instead of sending it to tax havens. America used to be a tax haven for foreign investors. If we want to pull out of the recession quickly, we should restructure our taxes and spending accordingly, to encourage people to squirrel their assets away on our soil, rather than Ireland, Switzerland, the Caribbean or Indonesia.

This is just basic, good sense, especially if you are one of those people who believes that the rich can buy influence. If you believe that, then what makes you think that they won't be able to get their assets overseas while the middle class and lower end of the upper class get taxed into oblivion?

Re:Local growth (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291259)

So the solution to entities dodging their social responsibility is to declare it no longer their responsibility? If you cut MS and co. a break on their taxes, someone else has to take up the slack. That someone is the middle class who are less able to afford it.

For those defending immorality via tax havens... (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290753)

'Software piracy negatively impacts local economic growth,' explained Microsoft VP Fengming Liu in a celebratory New Year's Eve press release. But then again, so does transferring $16B of assets and $9B in annual profit to an Irish tax haven, doesn't it?"

It is called a lack of accountability and transparency. Update the tax code to account for these places, making it near-impossible to use tax havens without incurring an unmanageable loss. How's 1,000,000,001% do as a minimum that scales up as the taxed amount goes down? Of course, there is the military option as a good deal of those tax havens are quite easy to topple.

What about the knockoffs in the realm of physical goods?

Re:For those defending immorality via tax havens.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26291247)

How is avoiding taxes immoral?

Do you also believe that the taxes Microsoft pays won't get pushed down to the consumer?

so what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26290773)

FTA
"Microsoft contends that much of the bogus software was detected by its Windows Genuine Advantage program, which is automatically installed on users' machines. It scans computers for pirated software and alerts people if it believes their products aren't properly licensed. The counterfeits were also discovered through customs seizures, test purchases by Microsoft and resellers who alerted authorities to suspicious competitors. "

WGA just alerts the user their software is fake, how is this bad or a big deal?

don't be .... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290779)

....human.

You are born and you will die and in your human lfe time you have to fit it in to the ideologies others have created. But why if there is a better way than teh way being used?

If anyone is looking for to use MS windows pirating as an excuse for the bad economy or in any way contributing to it... Wake up.
The economy is not what it is because of the knowledge, natural resources and man power we have, as what we have here calculates to a far better result.
But it is what it is because of how badly it has been manipulated by its inventors (inventors of the monetary systems of how new money is created).
The abstract of money is easy to manipulate, to easy to detour away from the values one actually produces.

When you have systems like the abstract stock market that is based on the abstract concept of money, it is in essence no longer an investment in a company but a method of transferring wealth without productively producing anything, and you have inherent problems.

As to the pirating.... Why are they doing it anyway as there are free options which are improving to the point of being better than, and surpassing, proprietary software.

So.... So what that MS has busted some pirate software producers. Obviously it is their (pirates) own choice to play the risk game.

This is not news of how well their genuine windows advantage works as those going to prison only become a burden on society to support them.

Oh wait... food, clothing, shelter..... supplied for free? I guess there is an advantage to pirating...

And when the next few generations die off nobody will know the difference anymore.

But if everyone pinched in being productive then we obviously would have a much better living so called economy.

The more OSS expands and improves the more obvious it is going to become that there is another and better way.

11 Languages? (1)

Mad-Bassist (944409) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290783)

"The counterfeit software, found in 36 countries and on five continents, contained fake versions of 19 of Microsoftâ(TM)s most popular products and was produced in at least 11 languages."

How many languages were the original products produced in? At first glance, it sounds like they were filling a need.

Re:11 Languages? (1)

wjsteele (255130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290833)

No, they were not filling a language gap need. Windows Vista is produced in 36 languages, and all of the pirated edition languages were already covered. (If I remember correctly, XP was produced in 24 languages.) Bill

more accurately... (1)

toby (759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290963)

Buying a Microsoft product from Microsoft "negatively impacts local economic growth."

Buying from a pirate directly contributes to local economic growth - in the short term, at least.

It seems likely that any Microsoft product is a long term liability, though.

Negatively Affects Growth? Uh, try again. (1)

Ammin (1012579) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290973)

How is it again that getting free software negatively affects "local" economic growth? If I live in a dirt poor country how is my economic growth helped by sending my money off to Microsoft?

Actually, it would seem that pirating software is a much better incentive for local growth -- instead of spending my hard currency on a bunch of easily replicated bits, I can use that currency for something tangible that builds my business, like a machine -- in a more efficient way using my super-duper Excel spreadsheet analysis.

Re:Negatively Affects Growth? Uh, try again. (1)

KeithJM (1024071) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291371)

If I live in a dirt poor country how is my economic growth helped by sending my money off to Microsoft?

Well, if you walked into a store in your dirt poor country and bought a copy, it might help your local economy. Or if you ordered a copy from Amazon.com, a resident of your country would probably be paid to deliver it. Someone might even pay you to install it for them.

Re:Negatively Affects Growth? Uh, try again. (2, Interesting)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291491)

Thats an economic fallacy called the Window Broken Fallacy.

The gist is that a kid breaks a window,therefore stimulates the economy to "create hundreds of dollars" of potential wealth in services and such.

The fallacypart is that would have happened any number of different ways. Instead, the person with the broken window is out that much money.

Excuse me? (1, Insightful)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26290991)

That's little comfort to the software counterfeiters

You say that as if they deserve anything other than what they got. They knew the risks, they knew the penalties (or should have), they got caught. Now, it is time for them to pay the price.

Maybe all you poor little whiners who cry every time someone is busted for violating other people's rights should imagine how you would like it if someone violated your rights. Oh, that is right, when someone violates the rights of FSF or the like, you want the book thrown at them.

What a bunch of whiny hypocrites you lot are.

You're kidding! Microsoft lied to us??? (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291413)

One more reason to move toward Open Source and tell these fuckers to take a hike. Having a nasty, paranoid mind-set, I have avoided WGA like the plague. There's less convenient but effective ways to keep my system updated, and properly-maintained security to deal with the time lag.

I'm not worried about piracy, but I don't for a minute believe Microsoft's claims about WGA. I'm certain they're collecting personal information, and I'm equally certain that at some point, they'll find a way to sell it or offer it to one government or another.

Right thing. (2, Insightful)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#26291429)

Despite the hatred against Microsoft, commercial or large-scale cloning of MS-products is not ok.

The right thing to do, is to destroy Microsoft completely, burn Bill and his EEE (extend, ...) and marketing team in hell and nuke everything from orbit, just to be sure. ;)

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