What steps are big software companies taking to combat piracy and counterfeiting?
Piracy is a huge problem for software companies and it's one that is becoming increasingly difficult to combat. However, Microsoft has a way to trace counterfeit discs to the factory where it was produced, and as a result, the crime syndicate responsible for it.
BusinessWeek this week carries a report on Microsoft's 10-year-old anti-counterfeit unit, and details the testing that takes place in the company's Dublin-based crime lab. Senior forensics manager Donal Keating uses a custom-built microscope to take 72 high-resolution images the disc in question, and then uses the abrasions and grooves on the stacking ring to match it to other fakes. Keating can then trace it to the factory where it was produced. Once he figures that out, he alerts the police.
According to BusinessWeek, this kind of testing is just one part of a massive campaign to stop counterfeiting. Microsoft has eight more labs besides the one in Ireland, and also employs 75 investigators, lawyers and analysts – many of which have gleaned experience from narcotics and mafia cases.
It may seem like overkill, but the unit has been successful on several occasions. BW reports that in 2007, Microsoft helped Chinese authorities take down a syndicate that had generated $2 billion in fake Microsoft products. Last December the Redmond-based company aided Indian police in a raid on one of the country's largest resellers of Microsoft products, which was selling a mixture of genuine and fake products.