Technology giant Microsoft is giving away software to those who may own pirated copies of its operating systems or applications in an effort to halt illegal copying.
The company has created a crew of piracy-busters, dubbed the Production Identification Team, to test for forged software. Microsoft says it will replace software for companies and individuals duped by lookalike imitations, with the real thing.
In a bold move to tackle piracy, Microsoft says it will even consider replacing all counterfeit CDs handed in within two days of purchase, except for those that are blatantly false, for example, those copied onto cheap writable discs.
Microsoft says it launched the initiative because pirated software can seriously damage the credibility of a company and even lead to legal disputes. The project will also help Microsoft track down pirates and halt a trade that is estimated to cost it billions of pounds each year in lost revenue.
"Microsoft is committed to helping our customers avoid the risks of the illegal software," says Julia Phillpot, antipiracy manager for Microsoft.
In September, Microsoft filed lawsuits against three US companies for allegedly distributing pirated versions of Windows 98 and Office 2000 worth approximately $1m. In August Microsoft revealed that it uses a dedicated search engine to trawl the Internet 24 hours a day for pirated software.
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