Know what you’re buying

The problem of counterfeit software is growing, and consumers may not even realize that they are contributing to it. Microsoft and the Toronto Police seized counterfeit software with a street value estimated at half a million dollars late last week, as the owner of a Markham, Ontario technology distribution company was charged. The police carried out the raid acting on a tip to the Major Crime Unit.

Working together, Microsoft investigators, private undercover agents and the police made controlled purchases from the company and discovered the counterfeit software. The CDs seized in the raid are alleged to be counterfeit Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) product, and include Microsoft Office 97 Professional Edition; Microsoft Windows 98; Microsoft Windows 95 and Microsoft Windows NT Workstation.

“The software recovered in this bust could have been acquired by unknowing system builders and resellers who in turn would have sold the licenses to innocent consumers across Canada,” said Michael Eisen, Director, Law and Corporate Affairs for Microsoft Canada. “We still believe that there are large quantities of counterfeit product available in Canada.”

With a software piracrate of 39 percent in Canada, Kimberley Lauder, anti-piracy marketing manager for Microsoft Canada, emphasized that consumers and resellers should become familiar with the warning signs and resources. Microsoft offers the following consumer tips:

  • Be suspicious of prices that seem “too good to be true” because they usually are. Low prices may indicate counterfeit software or product that has been misdirected.

  • Only purchase full packaged products. Retail Microsoft products are always sold in a box complete with manual, Certificate of Authenticity label on the spine of the box, End User License Agreement and registration card.

  • Watch out for product labeled “World Wide Fulfillment (WWF)” or “Academic Edition.” These products are only available to Microsoft Select and Open License customers or academic institutions

  • Remember that OEM products are available only to computer manufacturers for pre-loading onto new PCs. OEM software is only legal when installed on a new PC and cannot be legally purchased at the retail level.