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Mideast to benefit from Microsoft bust

Microsoft busts major software counterfeiting ring in China that shipped pirated products into ME.

Microsoft has busted a major software counterfeiting ring in China that was responsible for shipping huge quantities of copied software into the Middle East and other territories around the world.

The syndicate was so influential that Microsoft expects its actions to result in a "significant" decrease of counterfeit software in countries around the world. News of the bust will be warmly greeted by anti-piracy operatives in the Middle East region where piracy rates typically range between 50% and 60% a year.

Raids and arrests carried out in southern China during the last two weeks mark the culmination of a multi-year investigation into a software counterfeiting ring allegedly responsible for manufacturing and distributing a staggering US$2 billion worth of Microsoft software.

The investigation, which involved the FBI and China's Public Security Bureau, was assisted by hundreds of Microsoft customers and channel partners from around the globe. Law enforcement authorities and forensics specialists identified numerous CD replication plant lines that were the source of counterfeit Microsoft products, including Windows Vista, Windows Server and Office 2007, that had been supplied to businesses.

"This case represents a milestone in the fight against software piracy - governments, law enforcement agencies and private companies working together with customers and software resellers to break up a massive international counterfeiting ring," said Brad Smith, senior VP and general counsel at Microsoft (pictured). "This case should serve as a wake-up call to counterfeiters. Customers around the world are turning you in, governments and law enforcement have had enough, and private companies will act decisively to protect intellectual property."

During the course of the investigation, more than 55,000 sophisticated copies of counterfeit software were traced back to the same criminal syndicate. These counterfeit products came from seizures by law enforcement and customs authorities and through submissions made by Microsoft customers and resellers.

The 55,000 examined discs are believed to constitute less than 1% of the millions of counterfeit copies that are estimated to have been produced and shipped to distributors and countries in the Middle East, Europe, Asia and North America.

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