A Russian court has dropped piracy charges against environmental group Baikal Wave due to drastic changes made to Microsoft's licensing program for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) back in October, according to The New York Times.
The case, which centered on the legitimacy of Microsoft software the group had been using, resulted partly in the launch of a new, unilateral software licensing program by Microsoft that would give NGOs free and unrestricted access to various Microsoft software. That program was also designed to keep similar investigations from happening in Russia, where software piracy had been used as a means to begin a larger investigation, as well as in other parts of the world.
Microsoft's licensing changes, as well as a push by the company for the case to be dropped, helped lead to the end of the case, according to the Times. Though interestingly enough, the group had to contact the police officials in Russian province Irkutsk, which had been responsible for the confiscation of Baikal Wave's dozen computers, in order to find out that the investigation had ceased.
In a related post on Microsoft's On the Issues blog, Nancy Anderson, deputy general counsel and corporate VP for Microsoft's worldwide sales group, said that unilateral software licenses for NGOs and media groups are now immediately available in 12 different countries, with more to be added to that list in the future.
"We are also making it available in countries where we had already planned to extend the existing program and have been working through the last steps in doing so," Anderson said. "In preparing this software license we consulted with a number of organizations in multiple markets, including Russian civil society groups, to identify and address any open issues and help ensure smooth and efficient implementation of the licensing program."
Anderson said that Microsoft is "actively communicating the facts of the license to government officials" in the 12 countries, as well as offering legal assistance to the organizations that are using it, and an easy way to provide records of that license. "As part of this program, we will provide direct evidence, whenever it is needed, that NGOs and small, independent media in these 12 countries are covered by this software license," she said.
Microsoft's unilateral license runs through January 1, 2012, after which groups that are taking advantage of it will need to move to Microsoft's standard NGO donation program.