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article imageRussian piracy raids triggered by Microsoft

By Stephanie Medeiros     Sep 14, 2010 in Technology
On-going police raids of organizations with pirated Microsoft software have been becoming common in Russia and Microsoft is allowing the raids, despite their questionable accusations.
Baikal Environmental Wave is on a mission to stop the polluting of the deepest lake in the world, Lake Baikal in Siberia. The culprit is a paper company that is notorious for their hazardous levels of waste being dumped into Lake Baikal, but in 2008, the plant was successfully shut down. However, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has decided to re-open the plant in 2010, citing that it is now safe to the environment.
Though he may believe it is safe, Baikal Environmental Wave think otherwise and are determined to protest it. In retaliation of these protests, the Russian government decided to raid Baikal Environmental Wave's base of operations and confiscate their computers, saying that the software--by Microsoft--is pirated. This has not been the only instance of police raids taking computers under this pretense.
In an article on Fast Company, it states that these computers are usually not authenticated to see whether or not the Microsoft software is indeed stolen. Most times the data is copied or erased, with rarely the computer being returned to its owner. Microsoft's legal team that is located in Russia sides with the Russian government in their raids, too. In fact, most of these raids are first proposed by Microsoft prosecutors.
There have been two responses directly from Microsoft on the issue. The first was a general and vague response while the second one was more direct and vowed that Microsoft would start to progress in new methods to prevent further pirating. They predict to set new regulations as early as October of this year. The entire blog post was meant to calm the out cry and reassure people that proper paperwork can deter police raids.
Baikal Environmental Wave, however, did have all of their proper paperwork that proved their Microsoft software to be completely legal. Despite this hard evidence, their computers and other electronics were taken away. All the while, Microsoft offers no support and continues to accept these questionable charges against any organizations.
In the end, Microsoft promises to side moreso with the accused and help them further show proof of their legal purchases of the software. Despite this news, people remain skeptical until there is proof.
Unlike the fiasco between Google and China, Microsoft wishes to remain in Russia even after all of this media coverage. Kevin Kutz, Microsoft's Director of Public Affairs, says Microsoft "hasn't experienced any blow back from the Russian government," and will continue to be strict on piracy policies.
Meanwhile, Greenpeace is trying to aid Baikal Environmental Wave in their efforts to stop the paper mill. In the Reuters article, they are already asking President Dmitry Medvedev to rethink Prime Minister Putin's decision and overturn it. Over 1,500 different animal species and plants are in danger.
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