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Chinese Pirates Pulling Hard Time

Software counterfeiters in China have long been a thorn in the side of Microsoft bean counters (who never actually saw a lot of beans coming from China). Years ago, one could argue that few Chinese could pay for legit copies of Windows and Office anyway, so what's the harm? But now that the balance of trade with the U.S. is tilted so far in China's favor, you could argue the Chinese can better afford these prices than debt-ridden Americans.

This all serves as a bit of context for the news that Chinese authorities have sentenced 11 software pirates to up to six-and-a-half years in prison, an event that Microsoft celebrated with a congratulatory press release.

I felt a bit nauseous thinking of six years in a Chinese hoosegow and initially thought it bad taste for Microsoft to gloat over these sentences. On the other hand, there's a massive economic impact from all this copying: Microsoft claims that up to $2 billion in potential revenue was lost.

What do think? Sentences too harsh? Too soft? Your judgments welcome at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 01/05/2009 at 1:16 PM


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