Posted by David Finn
Associate General Counsel
Today is Consumer Action Day – a 24-hour period when we highlight the hundreds of education and enforcement initiatives around the globe designed to protect consumers from the risks of pirated and counterfeit software.
The harm done to consumers by pirated software is clearer now than ever before. Microsoft has experienced a surge of voluntary reports – more than 150,000 in the past two years – from people who unwittingly purchased counterfeit software riddled with viruses or malware. One of the most notable attributes of these reports is that the largest percentage – more than one-quarter– came from consumers in China.
China has struggled with software piracy for many years. Still, despite the efforts of the Chinese government, the software piracy rate in China stands today at 80 percent. We have long had a sense of what this means in terms of losses not only to Microsoft, but also to the Chinese economy; published studies indicate that lowering the piracy rate by 10 points would create more than $20 billion in economic growth, over 300,000 new jobs, and $1.5 billion in taxes for the Chinese economy each year.
The surge of piracy reports we have received from individuals in China has told us, loud and clear, what software piracy means for Chinese consumers. Counterfeit software often contains viruses and malware that does irreparable harm to computer systems and personal data. Moreover, much of this counterfeit software is sold as if it were legitimate with consumers getting duped into paying real money for fake software.
Microsoft has a long-standing commitment to work closely with business and government leaders to eradicate software piracy in China. Today’s Consumer Action Day announcements in China include an intellectual property rights education program for high schools across China and enforcement actions by the Chinese IPR law enforcement bodies – all based on consumer leads – against 12 companies charged with distributing counterfeit software or loading pirated software onto PCs sold in 6 different cities.
With consumer voices now added to the outcry, the call to act against software piracy in China has become more urgent than ever before.