Online auctions remain piracy problem for Microsoft

The company has filed another 63 suits against pirates selling via online marketplaces, the fact is, consumers remain eager to find cut-rate offers for Windows and Office.

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried
2 min read

Attention, software buyers: there's no such thing as Microsoft Office "Blue Edition."

That's the latest ruse making the rounds on online auctions. It feigns to be some sort of technician version of Microsoft's software that happens not to require a serial number or product activation or any of Microsoft's antipiracy mechanisms. In actuality, Microsoft says, it's just the latest wrapping for a pirated version of the company's software.

"That program is entirely fictitious," said Matt Lundy, a senior attorney for Microsoft. "It's nothing more than a scheme by pirates to confuse and deceive consumers."

The so-called Blue Edition of Office shown here is nothing more than a cheap pirated copy, Microsoft says. The problem is that the software has been selling well via online auctions. Microsoft

Microsoft has targeted those selling the "Blue Edition" as well as several other elaborate schemes in a series of 63 lawsuits in 12 countries, including a number of actions filed this week in the United States.

In addition to targeting Blue Edition sellers, Microsoft is going after pirates in New Zealand that were selling counterfeit copies of Windows XP that were shipped to buyers in the U.S., directly from China.

"It really highlights the global nature of the problem," Lundy said. Windows XP remains the version of Windows most often pirated, Lundy said, although in some cases Vista is also being offered.

Although eBay was among the places where those targeted in some of the suits sold their wares, Microsoft said it isn't blaming the online auction site.

"We hold the pirates responsible for piracy," he said. "All online marketplaces are susceptible to abuse."

Piracy is, of course, a huge problem for Microsoft. The lawsuits, while perhaps necessary, don't seem like they will stop such schemes. But maybe they will force pirates to shift tactics, or at least change colors.

Note: Lundy was originally quoted as saying he holds pirates responsible for privacy. He said piracy. I've fixed it above.