Microsoft Launches Anti-piracy Twitter Feed

Microsoft announces that it has launched a dedicated Twitter feed for its anti-piracy enforcement team. Despite attempts by Microsoft and other IT companies to curb piracy, often through aggressive policies, a recent report by McAfee suggests that the rate of file-sharing sites hosting unauthorized content has been rising steadily in the past few months.

Microsoft's Anti-Piracy Enforcement Team now has a Twitter feed.

The feed, which began on Nov. 3 with a link to a Microsoft page describing how to tell whether a piece of software has been pirated, has only four tweets but is expected to expand. A Microsoft spokesperson described the Twitter handle as a way for the company "to connect with the public on the issues of pirated and counterfeit software."

Microsoft's Corporate Communications division already has a Twitter feed here.

Like many IT companies, Microsoft has been moving to embrace social networking and microblogging as tools for connecting with the online community. Microsoft recently announced that Facebook and Twitter will be incorporated more fully into its search engine, Bing, with users able to search Twitter feeds for real-time information or post data to their Facebook pages.

According to McAfee, the number of new file-sharing sites hosting unauthorized content has rocketed upward in the past three months, despite the continuing legal pressure on sites such as Pirate Bay to shut down. McAfee's Third Quarter Threats Report found a 300 percent jump in the number of sites posting pirated content.

Despite this, Microsoft has continued an aggressive campaign against piracy, sometimes with unintended consequences. In September, Microsoft seemed to have concluded a long legal battle against security company Uniloc, which had alleged that Microsoft infringed on its patent relating to anti-piracy technology, when a federal judge tossed out a $388 million damage award against Redmond.

Specifically, Uniloc had argued that Microsoft's anti-piracy registration system for Windows XP and certain components of Office violated its own product-activation patent. Uniloc announced on Oct. 1 that it planned to appeal the federal judge's verdict.

In addition to piracy, Microsoft has been forceful in its attempts to prevent users from installing the full version of Windows 7 onto a blank hard drive using an upgrade disc. Although such a feat is technically possible, Redmond has argued publicly in blog postings that to do so without a "full qualifying license" violates EULA (End User License Agreement).

Doubtlessly, issues such as these will end up being reported on the new Twitter feed.