Microsoft last week fired its latest salvo in the war against software piracy in the business sector. As part of a new antipiracy initiative, it has offered a $5000 reward for information leading to successful legal action against a business caught with illegal or unauthorised Microsoft software.
The annual cost to the channel of software piracy in Australia is very difficult to measure, but estimates range from $100 million to $1billion - and this is just the value of unlicensed programs. Almost every reseller can recount stories of lost sales where there was at least a suspicion of unauthorised software involved.
Microsoft is serious about cracking down on software cheats and the new scheme is especially focused on small and medium businesses.
As MS NSW state manager Murali Dharan explained: "We recognise that many businesses inadvertently use unauthorised software because they lack the expert advice to manage their software assets, but we want business people to recognise that software piracy is no different than theft."
In terms of return on investment, though, the company is a little coy. No one at a media briefing was willing to estimate the additional licensing revenue expected by the campaign. Recent damages settlements have ranged from $20,000 to $250,000.
Microsoft's antipiracy hotline:
Tel 1800 639 963