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Microsoft launches global antipiracy campaign

update Software giant unveils new initiative that cuts across 49 countries in six continents, in bid to step up anti-piracy efforts.

update SINGAPORE--Microsoft on Tuesday launched an antipiracy campaign it calls Global Anti-Piracy Day, in a bid to step up its anti-piracy efforts.

Launched simultaneously across 49 countries in six continents, including Asia, the campaign encompasses a host of enforcement actions and awareness initiatives, according to the software giant.

David Finn, associate general counsel for worldwide antipiracy and anti-counterfeiting at Microsoft, said in an interview with ZDNet Asia: "According to IDC, piracy cost US$50 billion last year to the legitimate global economy... Microsoft is committed to working with others around the world to stay a step ahead of this illegal industry." Finn was in town as part of an Asian tour to launch the new initiative.

The programs unveiled include intellectual property awareness campaigns, engagements with partner businesses, educational forums, local law enforcement training, and new legal actions against alleged software counterfeiters and pirates.

The global event is not to introduce "vastly different" antipiracy measures, but is a "crescendo" of the software giant's involvement in combating piracy with countries, Finn said. "Today was born of the progress we've had. We've been fighting piracy for a long time, but we are reaching the stage of cross-border collaboration. The scope is bigger," he said.

He said the region's piracy rate still poses a "big concern", as it is one of the world's highest.

Microsoft today settled negotiations with three retailers at Singaporean mall, Sim Lim Square, which were raided in April this year and were found to be selling pirated goods. Finn said 300 counterfeit CDs were found during the raid, which were traced back to a distributor in China.

Two of the shops were closed when Finn was at Sim Lim Square this morning. He added that Microsoft handed out stickers and plaques to 11 resellers identified as carrying genuine goods.

Finn's plans in Asia involve meetings with mall owners in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. "The owners are evicting illegal shops... Local business people are recognizing that the prosperity of their own economies relies on [antipiracy]," he said.

He said the software giant, in addition to taking civil and criminal action against pirates, is also looking to educate government officials on the ills of piracy. Microsoft also trains law enforcement officers so they can more accurately identify counterfeits, and has worked with countries such as China, said Finn.

"The prevalence of piracy is often matched by the different awareness levels of the value of intellectual property. This is something you see in emerging markets. But as governments and officials get educated, piracy rate will go down," said Finn, adding that this trend was seen in Western Europe's battle with piracy, and he expects Asia's to be similar.