Microsoft has stepped up its fight against software piracy in South Africa, working with the Hawks to execute raids in recent weeks on the premises of various resellers suspected of selling counterfeit and unlicensed products.
In the most recent enforcement actions, about 100 counterfeit disks containing Microsoft software were seized along with PCs operating on unlicensed software, the software maker said in a statement.
“One suspect was arrested on site, while others were also rounded up,” the company said. “These suspects are now due to appear in the specialised commercial crimes court for dealing in counterfeit goods, which is an offence that carries a penalty of R5 000/disc and/or six months’ imprisonment.”
Microsoft said that last week, a magistrate handed down a custodial sentence to a Guo Liaxuang of E-Café in Hatfield, Pretoria. “Liaxuang was sentenced to correctional supervision for two 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.”
Microsoft said that it has a number of active cases being investigated by the police or being prosecuted by the National Prosecuting Authority at any given time.
“This is proof that the wheels of justice do turn and we’ve achieved several notable convictions of late,” said Marius Haman, digital crimes unit head for sub-Saharan Africa at Microsoft.
Apart from criminal enforcement actions, the digital crimes unit prosecutes civil cases through its outside counsel. “These civil legal cases follow investigations where resellers had been warned of wrongdoing, yet were not prepared to change their behaviour and continued to put consumers and businesses at risk,” Microsoft said. “They’re often initiated in response to customer complaints directly to Microsoft.”
Haman said that criminals often exploit the vulnerabilities in counterfeit software through malware and spyware, which exposes users to identity theft and attacks. — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media