Microsoft leaps to protect NGOs (and its reputation)
When corporate PR turned out to be a good thing
Published 16:37, 15 September 10
Trawling the Interwebs often nets us some pretty interesting stories (usually involving cats for some reason), but this little gem stands out for me this week.
It appears that, in a display of the heavy handed tactics that are coming to characterise the Russian government for us in the West, police in the country have been using the excuse of pirate software to crack down on inconveniences, such as the Baikal Wave environmental pressure group.
It comes as little surprise that the government would collude with the priorities of software companies in protecting their IP (especially as those priorities look set to be enshrined in law worldwide as part of the ACTA treaty). Nor should it be a surprise that the government will try to use the opportunity to settle scores with it's own opponents.
The surprising event was how Microsoft itself responded. From early reports that lawyers acting for the company were encouraging prosecutions and cheerleading the raids, Microsoft seemed to be taking the 'tough on piracy' stance it has heretofore pursued. However, within a matter of hours, public outcry led to a statement from the company deploring the abuse of power, and proposing to create a whole new licensing system for NGOs and pressure groups, to protect them from the enmity of authorities.
What this should make clear is that Microsoft's good name is worth as much to them as the small amounts of money they can make ensuring licence compliance among relatively small activist organisations.