Online piracy threatens channel warns Microsoft

Online piracy threatens channel warns Microsoft

Peer-to-peer networks, auction sites and piracy among friends is a growing problem

Following a crackdown on illegal traders with the help of police and Trading Standards officers, Microsoft’s anti-piracy spotlight has now been turned on internet-based piracy.

The software giant predicts that channel players will be hit by the growing menace of “casual piracy” from peer-to-peer networks and auction sites, which is more difficult to detect and combat than organised counterfeiting.

Michala Wardell, head of anti-piracy for Microsoft, said: “As internet piracy has become more prevalent, we have had to change our strategy to fit in with these developments. We are increasing our efforts in monitoring auction sites as well as peer-to-peer downloads.”

Microsoft’s anti-piracy team is increasingly finding auction sites selling illegal software that has been downloaded and copied.

Wardell also said the number of peer-to-peer downloads has increased due to widespread adoption of home broadband.

Breaking up organised criminal gangs grabs headlines, but the latest threat is from individuals downloading software from dubious sources and copying it for colleagues or friends, said Wardell.

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) predicts that the value of software offered illegally on auction sites will total almost £8m by the end of the year.

Brett Denley, senior director of channel sales for EMEA at the BSA, said: “The BSA is finding internet piracy to be a growing problem, which will undoubtedly have an impact on the channel.”

Increased monitoring of auction and peer-to-peer sites seems to be the primary tool for combating this crime. The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) uses Operation Tracker to monitor peer-to-peer file sharing by tracing pirates’ IP addresses.

Richard Hales, director of FAST, said: “Vendors and resellers should make the public more aware.”

David Simpson, commercial director at VAR Softcat, said: “People know if a software deal is too cheap and therefore questionable. Those who are caught should be prosecuted. Naming and shaming would also act as a good deterrent.”

Wardell added: “In combating new forms of piracy, resellers should not be afraid to take a proactive role and if they think that something is suspicious, they should contact Microsoft.”