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Hawks, Microsoft, swoop on software pirates

A collaboration between the Hawks and Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) and Anti-Piracy teams has led to the arrest and conviction of several software pirates in South Africa.

The Hawks are more formally known as South African Police Service’s (SAPS) Directorate Priority Crimes Investigations. With the DCU, they have executed raids on the premises of various resellers who have been identified by Microsoft piracy prevention programmes as being involved in the selling of counterfeit and/or unlicensed Microsoft software.

In the most recent enforcement actions around 100 counterfeit disks containing Microsoft software were seized along with a number of PCs, which were operating on unlicensed Microsoft software.

One suspect was arrested on site, whilst others were also rounded up. These suspects are now due to appear in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court for dealing in Counterfeit Goods, which is an offense that carries a penalty of R5 000 per disc and/or 6 months imprisonment.

More anti-piracy success in Pretoria

In yet another case last week, the Magistrate handed down a custodial sentence to Mr Guo Liaxuang of E-Café in Hatfield, Pretoria. Liaxuang was sentenced to correctional supervision for 2 years, during which he will be placed under house arrest for a period of 12 months. He will also be required to complete a behaviour reform course and perform community service, without compensation.

At any given time, we have a number of active cases being investigated by the SAPS or being prosecuted by the National Prosecuting Authority. This is proof that the wheels of justice do turn and we’ve achieved several notable convictions of late,” says Marius Haman, DCU lead for the Sub-Saharan Africa region.

Beyond the criminal enforcement actions, the DCU also prosecutes civil cases through its Outside Counsel resulting in several successful actions. These civil legal cases follow investigations where resellers had been warned of wrong doing, yet were not prepared to change their behaviour and continued to put consumers and businesses at risk. They’re often initiated in response to customer complaints directly to Microsoft.

Microsoft is determined to protect our intellectual property as well as our customer and partner ecosystem from the threat and losses associated with software piracy. Our goal is to reduce those incidents in which customers end up buying PCs with unlicensed copies of Microsoft software and create a fair playing field for all partners,” explains Mr Haman. “Often cybercriminals exploit the vulnerabilities in counterfeit software through malware and spyware, which exposes consumers and businesses alike, to identity theft and/or cyber-attacks.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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