Friday, February 09, 2007

Risk Shifting has Consequences

by Ken Houghton

It appears that, in the new Russia, buying software from a vendor makes you entirely liable if it turns out not to be legal.

The reaction in the Russian educational community is as should have been expected:
Rather than attacking mobsters who peddle pirated copies of Windows directly to companies, the Russian [police] decided to lock up aSepich headmaster who bought hot Windows software which came from Perm region’s Capital Construction Administration.

Microsoft says that the incident has nothing to do with them, but it appears that Russian schools in the area are so scared about being shipped off to a Siberian Gulag, that they are buying Linux gear instead.

Memo to Mr. Gates. The next time Mikhail Gorbachev asks you to intervene, a response of "don't blame us" probably won't be considered responsive. As we noted in the case of Romania, the pirates of today are the developers of tomorrow. (And, as Emil-Nicolaie noted in comments to that post, MSFT did themselves no long-term good in Romania either.)

UPDATE: The Russian court system does the right thing; it is left as an exercise to the reader whether MSFT should consider the case "trivial."

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