Microsoft circles piracy ring

Microsoft circles piracy ring

Distributor APD International and a small reseller operated by the former vice president of defunct system builder Edge Technology have both been embroiled in a piracy scandal that has Microsoft battling to figure out who to sue.

In mid-August, Microsoft sent a statement to its dealers and to the press claiming that it had settled a major software piracy case in Sydney. The vendor had accused Sydney-based wholesaler Natcomp Technology and its director, Fabio Grassia, of selling several hundred pirate copies of Windows Millennium (ME) Edition. Microsoft claimed that Natcomp, which settled out of court with the software vendor, had sold this software as burnable CDs with "Certificate of Authenticity" stickers that went missing in Canada some years ago.

At the time, Grassia told ARN the product was purchased with the understanding that it was legal. Natcomp had purchased the product from a small Sydney reseller, L&P Net Solutions. Microsoft, in turn, said that as well as taking action against Natcomp, it would pursue legal action against this reseller.

L&P Net Solutions, a small two-man networking business, claims to be "merely another victim" of the software piracy. Founder Peter Lai said Natcomp had contacted him asking for some software, even though 95 per cent of L&P's business is in the provision of networking services. "It's a tough business," he said. "If you think you can make a few bucks you try and make them."

Lai has since settled his case out of court with Microsoft by providing the details of the distributor from which he had purchased the suspect software. Microsoft confirmed that the case with L&P Net Solutions has been settled, but would not provide any further details.

Lai confirmed that he had purchased the goods in question from another local Sydney distributor, APD International. He believes that APD had imported the product.

APD International managing director Ngat Doen said that L&P Net Solutions was one of his customers, but denies selling any counterfeit software to the reseller. "I have never heard anything about this," he said. "We always do the right thing, we are a decent sized company and we don't want to ruin our reputation by getting involved in a stupid thing like that."

For the complete story, see this week's issue of ARN, out now.

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