Microsoft reaches massive settlement over software copying

A French company authorised to duplicate and distribute Microsoft software has admitted copying tens of thousands of illegal copies of Exchange and SQL Server

Microsoft has claimed an important victory in its battle against software "piracy", after securing a multi-million dollar settlement against one of its own, trusted disc "replicators" which had produced 20,000 unauthorised copies of Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server.

Microsoft released no details of exactly how much money it had recouped from the MPO Group, a company that replicates DVDs and CDs in France, Spain, Thailand and Ireland. The settlement was reached following an investigation into the group's disc manufacturing facility in Thailand.

This operation, which took over a year, revealed that the pirating had been done by a third-party company apparently claimed to have a "license" to replicate a certain number of discs annually, and that the Thai subsidiary of the French company, MPO Group, had incorrectly accepted that this license was genuine.

"In fact, no such license existed, and Microsoft does not license its software to be reproduced and distributed in this way," Microsoft said in a statement. Once the fraud was revealed, the MPO Group fully co-operated with Microsoft and law enforcement officials, according to Microsoft.

"We appreciate the steps MPO has taken to tighten their security procedures to prevent a recurrence of this type of wholesale counterfeiting of Microsoft software, and to help track down all those responsible for distributing the counterfeits," said Frank Holland, Microsoft vice-president of operations.

Replication companies are much used by software companies, such as Microsoft, who are reluctant to take on the job of duplicating millions of discs themselves and instead pay somebody to do that for them.

The MPO Group is one of the largest companies of its type in Europe. Its Ireland operation only manufactures CDs, while the others manufacture DVDs as well. According to the company's internal figures, it replicated 225 million DVDs and 295 million CDs in the year to August 2006. 70 million CDs were replicated in Ireland. The company was first founded as Moulares Plastiques de l'Ouest in Averton, France, in 1957 as a manufacturer of 45rpm records.


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