Microsoft is partnering with customers and governments around the globe to combat counterfeit software.
Dubbed Global Anti-Piracy Day, the effort includes a series of education and enforcement actions in 49 countries.
As part of the strategy, Microsoft has filed 20 lawsuits against software resellers in the United States that it accuses of pushing pirated copies of Office 2007 Enterprise, Microsoft Windows XP Pro, Office 2003 Pro and Office 2007 Pro.
The lawsuits are part of a counterpunch by Microsoft against an illegal industry estimated by the Business Software Alliance of costing the U.S. economy $8 billion in 2007 alone. Globally, that number is nearly $50 billion.
"One of the reasons we believe this announcement is important is it consolidates a lot of our activities in connection with our partnerships with governments, our customers and partners," said Bonnie MacNaughton, Microsoft senior attorney.
The initiative is extremely broad, so much so that Microsoft has created an interactive map users can scroll over to find out what Microsoft has planned for particular countries. In Brazil, for example, Microsoft is partnering with the American Chamber of Commerce to launch a blog that will raise awareness among educators about the importance of teaching young people about the threat piracy poses. In Italy, the company began an employee anti-piracy ambassador program to educate families and friends through informal social networks.
Microsoft also commended the Chinese government for its recent sentencing of two illegal operators found guilty of manipulating the Microsoft Open License program and selling unlicensed software to unsuspecting customers.
"There is growing evidence that highly organized, transnational criminal organizations and networks are involved in the counterfeiting of software and other goods," said John Newton of the Intellectual Property Rights Project, Financial and High-Tech Crime Subdirectorate, INTERPOL General Secretariat, in a statement. "This is a global problem with global sources of supply; this is why we need to work together-the public and the private sectors-to stop this trade.
"To that end, Microsoft and INTERPOL are now cooperating with police and customs agencies around the world to use all available intelligence to ensure that our joint investigations lead to arrests and convictions of criminal counterfeiters," he said.