Anti-Piracy Enforcement and NGOs

From Microsoft Blog by Brad Smith, a Microsoft General Counsel/SVP

A story in yesterday’s New York Times reports on anti-piracy enforcement actions in Russia that have been used for more nefarious purposes than protecting intellectual property rights. 

As General Counsel for Microsoft, it was not the type of story that felt good to read.  It described instances in which authorities had used piracy charges concerning Microsoft software to confiscate computers and harass non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others engaged in public advocacy.  It suggested that there had been cases when our own counsel at law firms had failed to help clear things up and had made matters worse instead.
Whatever the circumstances of the particular cases the New York Times described, we want to be clear that we unequivocally abhor any attempt to leverage intellectual property rights to stifle political advocacy or pursue improper personal gain.  We are moving swiftly to seek to remove any incentive or ability to engage in such behavior.

Some of our internal teams around the world were already looking at these issues, and they had turned to human rights advocates to ask for advice.  We pulled these internal teams together to assess the issues raised in the New York Times story, and yesterday morning we had our internal counsel in Moscow, Paris, and London on the phone with a number of our senior Legal and Corporate Affairs personnel from the Seattle area.

Our first step is clear-cut.  We must accept responsibility and assume accountability for our anti-piracy work, including the good and the bad.  At this point some of the specific facts are less clear than we would like.  We will retain an international law firm that has not been involved in the anti-piracy work to conduct an independent investigation, report on its conclusions, and advise us of new measures we should take.

The above is in reference to "Russia Uses Microsoft to Suppress Dissent" article in

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