Philippine school sues Microsoft over copyright

Southeastern College in Manila alleges the software company illegally copied and distributed copyrighted content.

PHILIPPINES--Microsoft is facing a lawsuit filed by a Manila-based school alleging that the software giant illegally copied and distributed copyrighted material.

Southeastern College (SEC) filed a civil case Monday against Microsoft and its local subsidiary Microsoft Philippines, according to a news report by Inquirer.net.

In its complaint, SEC alleged that Microsoft Philippines illegally distributed a manual for Microsoft Office XP which SEC developed and owns. The school is reportedly seeking 100 million pesos (US$2.44 million) in "damages".

The school said the 379-page manual--called "The SEC Microsoft Office XP Manual"--was registered and copyrighted in 1999 by SEC director Conrado Mañalac for the exclusive use of the school's teachers and students.

SEC claimed that in 2004, Microsoft Philippines purchased licenses to print some 10,000 copies of the SEC manual, which the software giant renamed to "Innovate: A Mentor's Guide to ICT Foundation Competencies" and was used for its "Partners in Learning" program for high-school teachers, the news report noted.

In October 2006, however, Microsoft distributed the manual in PDF format, through CDs, as a corporate giveaway during two separate events, SEC claimed.

The inquirer.net report quoted Estelito Mendoza, SEC's legal counsel, as saying that "SEC has never given Microsoft or any other person authority to reproduce and/or distribute (Innovate) in CDs", and that "SEC only consented to the printing of 10,000 book copies".

SEC also claimed that at least 700 copies of the Innovate CDs were distributed illegally by Microsoft.

Microsoft Philippines has yet to release a formal statement on the case, the Inquirer.net report noted.

Joel D. Pinaroc is a freelance IT journalist based in the Philippines.

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