Do you remember the hoo-ha caused some time back, whern Russian authorities seized a bunch of computers belonging to organizations which oppose the government under the pretext of piracy? Apparently, it seems that Microsoft has finally stepped in to make things right. At least 12 different countries are now covered under Microsoft’s anti-crackdown policy, which allows such organizations to gain easier access to free or lower-priced versions of its software.
Like any large company, Microsoft has had its share of making the headlines for the wrong reasons, and last month’s anti-piracy raid in Russia was definitely one of those reasons. We will not go into the details, but suffice to say Microsoft gained a lot of flak for allegedly supporting a raid that was allegedly political in nature, in spite of the fact that the seized computers were later found to be running genuine Microsoft software.
Not too long after the incident, Microsoft issued a formal statement in which the company claimed that it will cease to offer any form of support for raids or investigations that are politically influenced. In addition, to further complicate matters for law enforcement agencies and ensure the freedom of “advocacy groups and media outlets”, the company also announced its intention to introduce a new licensing scheme for the aforementioned users. Under this scheme, any Microsoft software used by advocacy groups and non-profit organizations will automatically secure ‘Genuine’ software licenses, without having to apply for it.
In addition, the scheme will also see the computers used by such groups being marked with a special seal of approval from Microsoft. This would make it even more difficult for authorities to justify any claims of piracy.
Fast forward to the present, and it seems that Microsoft has indeed made good on its promises not to interfere with political advocacy under the guise of protection of intellectual property. In addition to Russia, the company has now announced that the new anti-crackdown blanket license will be extended to 11 more countries. This includes “China, Malaysia, Vietnam and eight former Soviet states”.
According to the Electronista website, the effort will not be implanted immediately. Microsoft deputy general counsel Nancy Anderson claimed that it was due to the fact that Microsoft still has to work within the aforementioned countries’ laws, as well as translate the software accordingly to ensure that it can be used by the locals.
Anderson also added that other countries may be included in the blanket licensing scheme, although she did not provide any specifics. As such, whether Singapore will ever be covered by Microsoft’s anti-crackdown scheme is something which remains to be seen.
That being said, we can already think of certain groups and organizations that will undoubtedly be glad to have such protection should such a scheme ever be expanded to include Singapore.