07 December 2009

Microsoft Gets in on the ACTA

The other day I was writing about the great digital bait and switch:

Counterfeiting morphed into copyright infringement


there's clearly a collateral campaign underway to support ACTA by hammering on the wickedness of counterfeiting - allowing the bait and switch game to be played again.

Now it looks like Microsoft is joining in:

a common tactic of intellectual property holders is to blur the distinction between counterfeit and pirated goods (and even legal generic goods, in the case of the pharmaceutical industry). Microsoft's press release exemplifies this, talking about "counterfeit Microsoft software purchased at resellers" and the "black market for pirated software" as if the two were synonymous. In fact, most consumers who obtain pirated goods on the black market realise that they are not original. Whilst Consumers International discourages consumers from using pirated goods, in many countries they have little choice, because originals are either unavailable or are priced far beyond their means.

The post, from Consumers International, also points out:

there is a strong argument that copyright protection of computer software is skewed against the interests of consumers. In most countries computer software is protected for between 50 to 70 years after publication - so for example Windows 95 will not become free to copy until at least 2045. Even after the copyright expires, it may be impossible to make a copy due to technological restrictions (which, in many countries, are illegal to bypass). Assuming that you can make a copy, you still won't have access to the original source code that was used to create the software - which means that it can't be used as a building block for new works in the same same way as public domaini music or literature.

It also offers a solution to this state of affairs:

So if copyright on computer software is unbalanced against the interests of consumers, but if Consumers International does not advocate the use of pirated copies, how can consumers around the world have access to safe and high quality computer software? One option that many consumers around the world have found useful is the use of free and open source software.

Great to see people connecting the dots.

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