Microsoft says it abhors Russian anti-piracy ploy

Microsoft has spoken out against Russian attempts to suppress dissent with anti-piracy laws, saying that it “abhors” the practice.

Senior vice-president and general counsel for Microsoft, Brad Smith, said that the news that the Russian government had been using anti-piracy laws relating to Microsoft software to confiscate computers and otherwise persecute several non-government organisations (NGOs) in Russia was disturbing to read.

“Whatever the circumstances of the particular cases the New York Times described, we want to be clear that we unequivocally abhor any attempt to leverage intellectual property rights to stifle political advocacy or pursue improper personal gain,” said Smith.

He revealed that Microsoft is looking into the situation in Russia and is seeking advice from human rights groups. Microsoft is also bringing in an international law firm not connected with anti-piracy to conduct an independent investigation of the situation and advise accordingly.

“We’re creating in Russia a new NGO Legal Assistance Program focused specifically on helping NGOs document to the authorities that this new software license proves that they have legal software,” he said.

Smith said that while Microsoft is keen to reduce piracy and counterfeiting of its software it must be done in a way that respects the fundamental rights of human beings.