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Microsoft Complaints Help Russian Gov't Pursue Political Opposition Groups 249

Posted by timothy
from the honestly-now dept.
asaz989 writes "The New York Times reports that Russia selectively pursues software piracy complaints from Microsoft in order to suppress the opposition — confiscating computers for evidence, searching offices, and the like. Microsoft lawyers usually back the authorities in such cases, even when cases such as that of the environmentalist group Baikal Waves, which went out of its way to buy licenses to prevent police harassment and nevertheless had its offices raided, and its computers confiscated. Microsoft participated in this legal process. Published alongside this story, under the same byline, is a related piece on the collusion of Microsoft lawyers with corrupt Russian police in extorting money from the targets of software piracy investigations. In a responding press release, the company states, 'Microsoft antipiracy efforts are designed to honor both [antipiracy concerns and human rights], but we are open to feedback on what we can do to improve in that regard.'"
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Microsoft Complaints Help Russian Gov't Pursue Political Opposition Groups

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  • by phaggood (690955) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:08AM (#33552102) Homepage
    to open source, this is a prime example. Sheesh!
    • by dnaumov (453672) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:33AM (#33552232)

      to open source, this is a prime example. Sheesh!

      How would switching to open source help when you are getting raided on the PRETENSE you are using pirated software? You could be using a lab full od Linux PCs and still get raided to ensure you are "in compliance".

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ozmanjusri (601766)
        Microsoft is in cahoots with the police, both in this instance and when they extort money from businesses on license checks (a la BSA).

        Why would you pay to use the products of an entity that is blackmailing you?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I don't. Last MS product I bought was Office 97.

          Anyway while individual business owners may have morals, corporations are not owned by anybody (except stockholders). They do not reflect a desire for morality, but Id esire to increase the monetary income and don't give a frak about human rights. As we see with how Microsoft and Apple* treat individual citizens.

          *
          *I'm thinking of the case where a British guy had his iPod start smoking and then blowup. Apple refused to replace it. Then they changed their m

          • by hoggoth (414195) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @11:18AM (#33553252) Journal

            Bullshit, bullshit, and more bullshit.

            Every decision is made by a human being. I am tired of "corporations" getting a pass for immoral decisions because they are not people, but imaginary entities. Every corporation is run by people who sit behind a desk and decide what to do.

            Every clerk who kills someone by denying them medical coverage is committing an immoral act.
            The Microsoft exec who decided he could make his quarterly numbers by assisting in mafia-style protection and harassment cons against Russian companies is committing an immoral act.

            Never forget that. Don't let it slide. When evil is done, someone made the decision to do it.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by hoggoth (414195)

              In addition, everyone should read Stanley Milgrim's research (the original and some of his newer work). All people are capable of doing good or evil in the right circumstances. If even a SINGLE person says 'no' it breaks the spell of obedience and many more people start saying 'no' as well. A single act has powerful repercussions even if it doesn't seem so at the time.

               

            • >>>Every decision is made by a human being. I am tired of "corporations" getting a pass for immoral decisions because they are not people, but imaginary entities

              Me too.

              That's why I think every "incorporation license" within the US should be revoked, and therefore every company will be owned by a sole person (or partnership) who is directly responsible for the crimes of his company, including jail time. - Example: Ford makes Pintos that blow up? And they are aware of the problem but refuse to f

        • good question (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Presto Vivace (882157)
          Why would you pay to use the products of an entity that is blackmailing you? Nobody ever won a war with their customers. Moreover, the message I get from this is that you can steal to your heart's content so long as you are not involved in political activism.
      • by hedwards (940851)
        Even in the US, the BSA claims the right to raid your offices whenever they like on the pretense that you're violating the EULA. Doesn't matter if you've only got one copy and one license of a single application, they still want to be able to raid you for compliance.
        • Yet, if you didn't pay for any BSA backed piece of software, they wouldn't be able to raid your offices.

          Yep, sometimes that is hard, fighting any kind of mafia isn't suposed to be easy. And the BSA won't even break your knees.

      • by eugene2k (1213062) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @09:51AM (#33552642) Homepage

        >You could be using a lab full od Linux PCs
        In fact three of the computers taken ran Linux.

      • by dimeglio (456244)

        I remember Microsoft once said they were not interested in translating in a particular language (Chinese or Russian?) as they would only end-up selling only a single copy of the OS. I suppose they have since decided to publish in all languages and help foreign governments help themselves by issuing repetitive lawsuits. I'm wondering if this type of foreign influence is legal in the US.

    • by zlogic (892404) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:38AM (#33552258)

      Russian authorities often (but luckily not always) decide that if you're using Linux, you have something to hide. After all, the interface is completely different so this must be an evasive move to prevent authorities from searching for incriminating stuff with Windows Explorer's Search function. Automated tools for extracting web history, chat logs and email cannot be launched on a Linux machine. Also, the OS can be modified to hide stuff or do some nasty hacking shit. And no, I'm not joking.

      • by Ogi_UnixNut (916982) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:52AM (#33552310) Homepage

        That sounds like the same crap we get from law enforcement here in the UK. If a police officer sees a PC that does not run windows, they usually assume you are hiding something from them. I've actually heard them refer to it as "that hacker system". Seems that unless you are running Microsoft software (or a Mac running OSX), they will generally suspect you of something. Primarily because they seem to think that if you are not using Windows, it's a deliberate ploy to prevent their "forensic tools" and "experts" from prying, and that you are using it for "non-legal" purposes.

        God forbid they ever look at my laptop, in addition to it not being windows, it starts up in command line mode, and has encrypted partitions and files all over the place. I would not like to find out what explaining that to them would be like (let alone what would happen if they don't believe me).

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          I would not like to find out what explaining that to them would be like (let alone what would happen if they don't believe me).

          My money's on the $5 wrench. [xkcd.com] :)

          • by Mathinker (909784) * on Sunday September 12, 2010 @09:49AM (#33552636) Journal

            > My money's on the $5 wrench. [xkcd.com]

            Refusal (and therefore, I suppose, inability) to surrender your encryption keys in the UK is a crime. I suppose trying to use some system with deniability might be of use, but given the spirit of that law, I don't see it as an impossibility that the court would merely presume (based on other "evidence") that you have used the deniability features of whatever encryption system is installed, and jail you for not surrendering the (presumed) keys (even if you haven't used those features).

            • by Ogi_UnixNut (916982) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @10:14AM (#33552764) Homepage

              Indeed, a really messed up law, although really convenient if you want to put someone away for a limited time.

              Assuming you have some access to their computer, All you have to do is place some files full of random data with an extension of "gpg" then anonymously tip off the cops that you saw your target viewing CP on their laptop. They arrest the guy, confiscate the laptop, find the files (which look like encrypted containers) and demand an encryption key that doesn't exist. Unless the guy somehow can convince them otherwise, he can get a 3 year stint in prison, even if he is totally innocent of the charges levied against him.

        • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @09:44AM (#33552598) Journal

          >>>That sounds like the same crap we get from law enforcement here in the [A$]. If a police officer sees a PC that does not run windows, they usually assume you are hiding something
          >>>

          where A$ == EU, US, Canada, Australia, and so on. I don't think this is necessarily government poliy, but merely the innate instinct of human being to distrust things that are strange or unfamiliar to them.
          .

          >>>I would not like to find out what explaining that to them would be like

          Good grief... NEVER TALK TO POLICE. Exercise your inalienable right to speak freely AND exercise your inalienable right to not speak/ remain silent. See this video. Part 1 is the law professor, and Part 2 is the cop whose job is to entrap you into admitting guilt, even if you are completely innocent - http://youtu.be/i8z7NC5sgik [youtu.be]
          .

          • I don't intend to talk to them, but I've been stopped and questioned by them many times in my life. Here in the UK they have targets to fill for persons arrested, so they care little if you are guilty or not, they are just trying to inflate their numbers, so will try to arrest you for any little detail.

            Thankfully I've not been arrested yet, but so far I've never been stopped with my laptop in my possession. If they demanded to look at it I don't know how I could explain to them what's going on without them

            • >>>Thankfully I've not been arrested yet, but so far I've never been stopped with my laptop in my possession. If they demanded to look at it I don't know how I could explain to them what's going on without them arresting me. That is what I'm getting a

              Unfortunately the UK doesn't have a "Supreme Law" that protects its citizens. Parliament can overrule your individual rights anytime it feels like it. Perhaps you could invoke your EU Charter of Rights, since they are technically superior to Englis

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Russian authorities often (but luckily not always) decide that if you're using Linux, you have something to hide. After all, the interface is completely different

        Bullshit. The biggest difference between KDE and Windows 7 is it's prettier and easier to use. [slashdot.org]

      • Citation needed if you are not joking. Also, I am unaware of Russian authorities using some kind of Bundestrojaner. They are usually much less sophisticated than that.

  • Troll story? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by iONiUM (530420)

    You know, while I know it's popular opinion to hate on Microsoft on slashdot, doesn't it seem to me that it's the Russian government abusing their own laws in order to screw the opposition, rather than Microsoft sitting there plotting how to hurt people? If it wasn't this, it would be something else.

    Just sayin'..

    • Re:Troll story? (Score:5, Informative)

      by DarkKnightRadick (268025) <the_spoon.geo@yahoo.com> on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:17AM (#33552152) Homepage Journal

      Yes, but Microsoft is apparently in collusion to help the police in these cases. That's disgusting. Absolutely disgusting and it would be so no matter if it was Apple, Google, or some other software vendor.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Draek (916851)

        Yeah, but if it had been Apple or Google only the corrupt lawyers would've been blamed and not the whole organization.

        • Re:Troll story? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by DarkKnightRadick (268025) <the_spoon.geo@yahoo.com> on Sunday September 12, 2010 @09:11AM (#33552402) Homepage Journal

          Only because Apple and Google don't have a history of being corrupt as a whole.

          • by Draek (916851)

            I doubt you could find much on Microsoft that a simple Google search wouldn't turn on Apple as well. Other than being declared a monopoly of course, but that's only because Apple sucks at selling computers, not because they're not evil.

            Still, even if you're correct that doesn't mean Microsoft did all of this themselves rather than having a bunch of their russian lawyers bribed by the government, and without evidence either way I'd say the latter is far more likely.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Google can't even do business in China without being accused of being "evil", so I can't really fathom what you're trying to say. What Microsoft is doing here is a lot worse than censoring search results, and yet you're saying Google gets free passes in the press?

          I think you may want to examine you biases.

          • by Draek (916851)

            The Google case was different as there was enough evidence to determine it was a result of specific corporate policy put in place, so any blame should've rested on the company as a whole rather than a subset of it.

            If you want a clearer parallel I'd direct you to the Foxconn suicides of a while back, where Slashdot as a whole fell on the side of "Apple is blameless for Foxconn's treatment of their employees" since there wasn't anything evidencing Apple's knowledge of the situation at Foxconn before the story

          • Well, honestly, Google can't really do business in China without being evil. They discovered it the hard way.

        • >>>Yeah, but if it had been Apple or Google only the corrupt lawyers would've been blamed and not the whole organization.

          Clearly he don't me very well, do he Doc?

          - C64love (hater of all megacorps) ;-)

      • Well technically Apple and Google do not follow the same software model as Microsoft so it is unlikely that they will participate in such a raid. They may help corrupt authorities in other ways but not when it comes to licensing.
    • by EvilIdler (21087)

      Yes, it does look to me like they're abusing Microsoft. I still think the whole business of a software company being able to send out goon squads to raid offices needs to end, though. See BSA abuse - rat on your ex-employer when fired and they're in a world of hurt whether their software is legal or not.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      Published alongside this story, under the same byline, is a related piece on the collusion of Microsoft lawyers with corrupt Russian police in extorting money from the targets of software piracy investigations

      you missed that bit from the summary, let alone TFA.

      All I know is that when MS decided to check on us if we had enough licences (we didn't, of course, their convoluted licence agreements saw to that) they made us hire an audit company to come in and check us out - so they made us pay to audit ourselves

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sjames (1099)

        I once convinced a client to go with a non-MS solution by calling MS and asking how many of what license would be required. Everyone on both sides of the conversation ended up confused and no once and for all answer emerged. No assurances were offered that the setup would be considered license compliant.

        If THEY don't know what is necessary to be compliant on any given day, how is anyone else to know? If you can't know, how can you comply?

        I agree that if a company is going to use MS products it should attemp

    • Re:Troll story? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by blackraven14250 (902843) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:21AM (#33552168)

      You know, while I know it's popular opinion to hate on Microsoft on slashdot, doesn't it seem to me that it's the Russian government abusing their own laws in order to screw the opposition, rather than Microsoft sitting there plotting how to hurt people? If it wasn't this, it would be something else.

      Just sayin'..

      Well, modern Russia is known for extreme corruption, literally from the level of local police up to the top. They will use any method possible, regardless as to Microsoft's involvement.

      I was watching Fareed Zakaria GPS about 2 weeks ago, and he had a guy on whose business was literally stolen by local police. They raided the offices, took a set of papers required to own the business as part of the raid, transferred it to an inmate's name, who was serving a long sentence, then had a shell corporation sue the business. The judge entered a billion-dollar judgment within a day. Then, the lawyer who discovered all of this testified against the cops. He got thrown in jail for 6 months, where his water purifier was stolen while he was moved around a whole bunch of times in the prison, and eventually died there.

      William Browder was the man running Hermitage in Russia before this whole thing happened.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bsDaemon (87307)

        Modern Russia? You must have Russia confused with a country that has ever been free. The went from the Czars to the Bolsheviks, and have since been lead by a string of oil barons and former KGB officers nostalgic for the old days. I mean, really... has that country ever had anything approaching freedom since the original Viking settlers headed out there in the middle ages?

        • Anarchy and overall decay which ensued in the 90-s are often seen from the outside as "freedom". It is actually little wonder that the pendulum made its way back. Liberal democracy is being associated with chaos in Russia so these ideas will not be popular for years to come.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          has that country ever had anything approaching freedom since the original Viking settlers headed out there in the middle ages?

          It did. It lasted for about 13 hours, while the Constituent Assembly [wikipedia.org] - the first body in Russia ever formed in a truly democratic elections, and representing all people of the country, was operating.

          If you look back long enough, well, there was also the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (which was culturally half-East Slavic, consisted in large parts from the lands previously belonging to Kievan Rus; and chunks of which remain today in modern Russia), and also Novgorod and Pskov veche [wikipedia.org] republics. But how much politic

    • by jav1231 (539129)
      "If it wasn't this, it would be something else."
      That doesn't clean their hands. That's the point. Frankly, I don't think western businesses should set up shop in places that abuse their people. Forty years of capitalism in China has done little for human rights. Tienanmen Square was did little more than make the world go, "Bad, bad China!" Which is how the world generally deals with civil rights abuses. Start pulling business out of these places and be done with them. Isolate them like North Korea. How doe
      • by Dogtanian (588974)

        Start pulling business out of these places and be done with them. Isolate them like North Korea.

        North Korea has a population of around 22 million. The People's Republic of China has a population of 1.3 *billion* people. That's over four times the size of the United States.

        Now, I'm not defending amoral businesses investing in China without giving a toss about anything beyond the bottom line. Frankly, I don't have an easy answer or solution to what we should do. But suggesting that we should simply "isolate them like North Korea" is much easier said than done.

        You know how much trouble a small countr

    • Re:Troll story? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @09:05AM (#33552370) Journal

      Abusing its own laws? They're the government, for crying out loud. Laws are their toys. They own them. They can do what they want. This notion the the laws are somehow sacrosanct is a decadent Western invention.

    • Re:Troll story? (Score:5, Informative)

      by CheshireCatCO (185193) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @09:28AM (#33552490) Homepage

      In as much as Microsoft isn't stepping up to clear the names of groups (like Baikal Wave) that have legitimate copies of their software, but are apparently helping the police bully groups that don't, I think you're missing the point. Microsoft isn't just a pawn in this, they're actively helping the state and not helping innocent victims. They're making definite choices who to assist and it's not a purely business decision. (Clearing the your customers of stealing from you is good business.)

    • Let's reword your sentence a little bit, and see if you still share the same opinion: "You know, while I know it's popular opinion to hate on [RIAA and MPAA] on slashdot, doesn't it seem to me that it's the Russian government abusing their own laws in order to screw the opposition, rather than [RIAA and MPAA] sitting there plotting how to hurt people?"

      Oh and the answer to your question is:

      Yes the government is to blame, but so too are Microsoft, RIAA, MPAA, and their crush the individual citizen policies (

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Russia's government wants to join the WTO badly. Software piracy is cited as one of the major obstacle for them. So they need to conduct anti-piracy raids. And while they're at it, why not smash some anti-government groups in the process?

      For Microsoft it is business as usual — they get their share of "buy licenses" PR without risking backlash from the government (which will happen if they sue wrong people).

      The priorities are somehow wrong in TFA and in popular opinion on /. IMO. Opposition groups are

  • by DWMorse (1816016) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:13AM (#33552138) Homepage
    Bring back Clippy! You'll notice a sharp drop in piracy immediately.
  • by hessian (467078) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:19AM (#33552162) Homepage Journal

    Third world countries tend to be run by juntas, warlords, oligarchs and strongmen. They're like having the Mafia, except as your official government.

    If you want to get anything done in these countries, you make nice with them. Either that, or you have to overthrow them.

    This is why the CIA is routinely in bed with horrible people -- these horrible people run the horrible countries where they need to get things done.

    Western businesses have taken a massive beating in Russia because everything is corrupt (Russia, as a country with minimal rule of law and an average IQ of 96, qualifies as third-world). They've started to play ball because short of that invasion, it's the only option.

    In this case, while Microsoft is doing evil, it's also a necessary evil if they want to do business in Russia.

    • by Draek (916851) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @09:00AM (#33552346)

      The fact that you call Russia of all things a "third world" country shows you couldn't find your way out of your ass with a flashlight and a map.

    • by Eudial (590661)

      Learn2history. Russia is by definition the second world (as is the rest of former Soviet as well as China, and some other Asian countries). The third world is countries that were neutral in the cold war, whereas the first world is America and it's cold war allies (NATO, Australia and some others).

    • by Zironic (1112127) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @09:19AM (#33552456)

      Russia by definition can't be a third world country as they define the second world, now even if they didn't how the fuck can you put Russia in the same category as Nigeria? Do you have any sense of proportion whatsoever?

      • There is no such thing as the third World. It is a myth. There is a continuum of social and economic development. go to www.gapminder.org and see the world how it is.

        • by Zironic (1112127)

          It's not a myth, it's an abstraction. Calling the third world a myth is like calling the colour red a myth.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        I'd say he just doesn't know what "3rd world" means but thinks he does.

      • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @06:21PM (#33556524) Journal

        Russia by definition can't be a third world country as they define the second world

        Soviet Union defined the "second world". That country is no more.

        how the fuck can you put Russia in the same category as Nigeria?

        As of 2008:

        Population
        Russia: 142 021 thousand
        Nigeria: 140 003 thousand

        Gini coefficient
        Russia: 40.5
        Nigeria: 43.7

        Corruption index
        Russia: 143rd place
        Nigeria: 147th place

        Average male life expectance
        Russia: 58 years
        Nigeria: 52 years

        Mortality rate
        Russia: 16,04 deaths per 1000 people
        Nigeria: 16,68 deaths per 1000 people

        Property right protection index
        Russia: 63rd out of 70
        Nigeria: 64th out of 70

        Number of citizens in favor of democracy
        Russia: 47.8%
        Nigeria: 44.2%

        Number of citizens claiming that stability is more important than freedom of speech
        Russia: 47%
        Nigeria: 43%

        Press freedom index ("Reporters without borders")
        Russia: 144th out of 169
        Nigeria: 131st out of 169

        Ease of doing business index (World Bank)
        Russia: 106th out of 178
        Nigeria: 108th out of 178

        Economic freedom index (WSJ / Heritage Foundation)
        Russia: 120th out of 171
        Nigeria: 131st out of 171

        Global peace index (IEP)
        Russia: 118th out of 121
        Nigeria: 117th out of 121

        The economies of both countries rely mostly on export of natural resources, primarily oil and gas.

        If you thought that Brin was joking when he said that "Russia is Nigeria with snow", then you were wrong. He actually meant precisely what he said, and numbers back it up.

        Oh, and in case someone might want to attack me as an "ignorant American clueless of other countries", I'm Russian.

    • You mean *first* world: Itally was governed by the Mafia for decades. Their president (Agliotti) was the chief of the Mafia.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:23AM (#33552186)

    There isn't one reason for NGOs continue to use microsoft software, in fact there are lots of reasons to not use it!

    • There isn't one reason for NGOs continue to use microsoft software, in fact there are lots of reasons to not use it!

      Quite the same reasons enterprises have to use it. Mainly market/user knowledge share and product integration. Or do you think bussiness use Microsoft for a sentimental reason?

  • Uh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jav1231 (539129) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:31AM (#33552222)
    "but we are open to feedback on what we can do to improve in that regard.'"
    Of course, such feedback might make you a target but hey...

    Microsoft is inherently evil. Like kicking puppies.
    • "we are open to feedback on what we can do to improve in that regard." Simple, really. Stop going after small time pirates. Hey, it's ALRIGHT to go after big time commercial "counterfeiters". I have no sympathy for someone who burns a thousand copies of Windows, for sale. But, face it - if every single high school kid in the northern hemisphere were to pirate 5 copies of Windows - Microsoft wouldn't lose a THING. Add in the southern hemisphere, and the losses would double to ZERO. (Is that cool, I ju
    • by fermion (181285)
      This is reality. It was done in the 90's to help MS understad how they could atempt dominate the internet market. Many companies used MS technology back then. MS Windows NT provided a real OS for many tasks. The then flexibility of licensing allowed one to buy machines, get them up and running, and then acquire licenses as one could. In general this worked well and everyone made money. It was beneficial to MS because IE-only meant much of the web was a MS only product.

      Then near the end of 90's, with

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In Soviet Russia, Microsoft Helps you!

  • by AHuxley (892839) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:47AM (#33552292) Homepage Journal
    Usually finds its way into the USA.
    The trick could be to have a software license issue appear as a "debtor" issue to a local US court.
    Stop using MS products and you can escape the phone home license, summons for the user to appear in court, warrant for arrest cycle.
    The idea to show a US trade group that pirated software is a serious issue and suppress the opposition is rather creative.
    But like with Nokia Siemens, the truth can surface.
  • From TFA (Score:3, Informative)

    by andy1307 (656570) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @09:01AM (#33552350)

    Microsoft executives in Moscow and at the company’s headquarters in Redmond, Wash., asserted that they did not initiate the inquiries and that they took part in them only because they were required to do so under Russian law. After The New York Times presented its reporting to senior Microsoft officials, the company responded that it planned to tighten its oversight of its legal affairs in Russia. Human rights organizations in Russia have been pressing Microsoft to do so for months. The Moscow Helsinki Group sent a letter to Microsoft this year saying that the company was complicit in “the persecution of civil society activists.”

  • by airfoobar (1853132) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @09:04AM (#33552366)

    "Copyright as censorship" is not a new idea. In fact, it's what copyright was originally meant to be when it was first devised, and now it's simply returning to its roots. With the far-reaching scope of intellectual "property" today, pretty much anyone can be accused of piracy, and oppressive governments can just pick who they want to target and point their finger.

    Companies like Microsoft are just being opportunists (read: "free-market capitalists") -- they know that if they are copyright holders, they have the power to negotiate with governments who are inclined to use copyright as censorship. Who knows what rewards Microsoft will get from the Russian government? Perhaps this is how that official Russian Linux distro was discontinued.

    And don't think the Russian government is the only one to do this sort of thing. Hardly! They are guilty of not being subtle about it, but the US government is just as bad. There's even a "Department of Homeland Security" conducting raids in the name of copyright, so yes I'd say we have a serious problem.

    • With the far-reaching scope of intellectual "property" today, pretty much anyone can be acused of piracy, and oppressive governments can just pick who they want to target and point their finger.

      Are you saying that people did install Windows or Office with cracked versions or generated keys without realizing it? And they were the innocent victims because of that?

      Everyone has his/her points of view and you are free to push your agenda, but if you are going to ignore facts and try to fool us, please try a litt

  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @09:07AM (#33552382) Homepage

    On one hand, Microsoft has a right to complain about copyright infringement. Even I will not deny them that. On the other, Microsoft is probably aware of the selective nature of how Russian officials investigate and act on those claims. Should Microsoft, imagining for a moment that they have any sort of conscience, contribute to the oppression of human rights by issuing complaints?

    As another pointed out, running Linux and free software on every machine will not quite end the problem. After all, Microsoft has long since campaigned against "naked PCs" and that they are likely to be software pirates unless they were sold with OEM Windows and OEM Office. Their complaints may well be in the form of "they are running PCs but we show no indication that they have licensed any software from us!" That would be reason enough, I suspect, to raid a location or two.

    So, I have decided that Microsoft is a willing and complicit tool in this case. They can't not be aware of how their complaints are being used given their selective enforcement nature. And as far as Russian government officials are concerned, we are generally aware of the levels of government corruption within ex-Soviet countries. (I'll grant that the impression of government corruption in Russia is rather "cartoonish" in our understanding which is essentially belief without first-hand knowledge or evidence.) Microsoft should be more careful about issuing complaints. They aren't making examples of software pirates, in these cases, they are just being used as a weapon to "legitimately" attack political opponents.

    • by mizhi (186984)

      No mod points available, so you'll just have to get a "Good job!" instead.

    • Russians government's motivation is actually very clear — rampant computer piracy is often cited as a major obstacle which prevents Russia from joining the WTO. So there will be anti-piracy raids anyway. That anti-government groups will be smashed in a process is just a welcome side effect.

      As for Microsoft — business as usual for them. They even made some bad blood with the government lately suing people left and right including a school's director for using pirated software which came with PC's

    • by careysub (976506)
      MOD THIS GUY UP!
    • by OneMadMuppet (1329291) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @01:39PM (#33554060) Homepage
      I live in Ukraine, and often travel to Russia, so my knowledge is first hand. Corruption and bribery is institutionalised in the CIS - it a way of live, and it's not going to change. People can't imagine not bribing officials to get things done. In 2007 bribery in Russia was worth $33bn - more than the GDP of Lebanon or Kenya.
  • The /. title says that Microsoft is making the complaints and this is not true. These are government complaints. Assuming Microsoft intends to do business in Russia legally and assuming they intend to defend their intellectual property rights there they have to cooperate with the government when presented with a complaint.

    Nothing in the article that I saw indicated that Microsoft is initiating or exacerbating any of this.

  • In Russia today there is no discernible, due process based rule of law. The government makes sure that everyone is a criminal for some reason or another. The result is that the government can molest you at anytime on nearly any pretext. Putin is insecure about sharing any power that would diminish his dictatorship. MSFT is a Patsy in this matter.
  • Intellectual Property infringes you?
    No wait, that's the way it works everywhere else too.

  • I am astonished by so many people focusing in MS, maybe it is not a favorite here but the main lesson to be learnt from the story is, from my POV:

    IF YOU ARE GOING TO FIGHT THE POWERS THAT ARE, DON'T BE STUPID.

    Stay inside the law, do not pirate software, do not make anything that could be/look like rape... Think before acting that your acts will be reviewed in the worst ligth possible, and that you'll be punished by things nobody else is punished.

    Even acting this way don't keep you out of trouble, but at l

  • by Locutus (9039) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @01:59PM (#33554200)
    I've heard of many US school systems being forced to pay for expensive audits without any proof of wrong doing and that the Microsoft license agreement they and everyone else has to accept to use Windows allows this. So it does not matter how careful you are to make sure you are legal, Microsoft and a pal( the government ) can use this and be 100% legal since you agreed to it when you said OK to the license.

    As for the US schools, Microsoft only stopped doing that once a few of them threw away all their Microsoft software and went with GNU/Linux and open source software and then started spreading the word how much money they were saving doing that. Word was spreading, or was it fear, of what Microsoft was doing so lots of education systems were getting interested in GNU/Linux until Microsoft agreed to stop the audits.

    LoB

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