REDMOND, Wash., March 18, 1997 — Microsoft announced today that it has filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement against a Web site operator who was illegally distributing software that disabled the time limit security features in a trial version of Office 97. The alleged copyright infringement was brought to Microsoft’s attention by a tip to the company’s anti-piracy hotline.
According to the lawsuit, filed Monday in the United States District Court of Minnesota, the defendant Christopher Fazendin was offering software that circumvented the time-limit security features of a trial version of Office 97. This enabled users to continue to use the product illegally after the expiration of the 90-day license for the trial period.
The trial version was being distributed nationwide through a special joint promotion between Microsoft and Kinkos, to allow users to try out Office 97 for 90 days at a minimal cost of just $4.99.
“This kind of illegal activity affects the entire software industry and is ultimately going to hurt consumers,” said Jim Lowe, Microsoft Corporate Attorney. “Trial programs allow consumers to ‘test-drive’ new software at minimal cost. When someone deliberately encourages people to break the law and violate the terms of a trial offer, it could result in fewer trial opportunities for consumers in the future.”
“Operators of Web sites who are illegally distributing copyright-protected software should be on notice that they will be investigated and could face lawsuits or even criminal prosecution,” said Bob Kruger, Vice President of Enforcement for the Business Software Alliance. “This is a problem that affects every software developer. Cracking software security features is really just another form of theft. It’s bad for consumers, it’s bad for software developers and it cannot be tolerated.”
According to the lawsuit, the Web site operator was making available an unauthorized reproduction of copyrighted software code from the regular retail version of Office 97. The complaint also alleges that the Web site operator contributed to the copyright infringement of third parties by facilitating copying, distribution and use of the copyrighted code from the regular retail version of Office 97.
“This is like someone publishing your long distance calling card code or your bankcard PIN number on the Web,” Lowe said. “Anyone who encourages copyright infringement by illegally posting information to a Web site, newsgroup or any other online medium may be considered a contributory infringer under federal copyright law,” Lowe added. “We are investigating any sites where this has occurred, in order to protect our intellectual property rights.”
Consumers or resellers with questions about the legitimacy of Microsoft products should call the Microsoft Anti-Piracy Hotline at 1-800-RU-LEGIT or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org . To receive more information about software piracy, call the Business Software Alliance (BSA) Anti-Piracy Hotline at 1-800-688-2721 or e-mail email@example.com .
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