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PC seller cops $462,624 fine for pirated Microsoft software

Dubbo-based PC seller, Jose Antonio Caceres Melgar, has been ordered by the Federal Court to pay $462,624 in damages for infringing copyright of Microsoft software.

Melgar was caught selling computers with unauthorised copies of Microsoft Windows 7 and Office 2010 software.

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The computers had fake Windows Certificates of Authenticity attached to them.

On May 24, Justice Emmett, awarded Microsoft compensatory damages of $162,624, which is the retail value of the unlicensed software that was sold. Melgar was also slapped with additional damages totaling $300,000 because of the 'flagrancy' of his infringement and conduct in avoiding court proceedings, and to also deter infringing conduct in the future. Melgar sold about 168 computer systems on websites such as eBay and QuickSales.com, using numerous online aliases.

Microsoft Australia legal counsel, Clayton Noble, said it sent Melgar numerous cease and desist letters, but he continued to sell PCs with pirated Windows and Office installed.

"He wouldn't respond and just kept selling, so we had to take legal action in the end," Noble said.

Microsoft has a continuous and thorough program of investigating pirated software, and resellers also provided leads, he said.

"Our investigators are always searching the market for pirated software and each case we do take action on," he said. "Resellers aren't happy when their competitors are cheating. It's not a level playing field when they're trying to compete with software vendors and computer sellers that are not respecting copyright and not paying license fees for the software."

Noble said it is also approached by customers when they have problems with their software and are unaware that the computer they have bought is installed with pirated software, or the packaged software is counterfeit.

"That presents all sorts of risks for consumers because non-genuine software has high rates of malware, trojans and spyware embedded," he said.

Noble said Microsoft is constantly making improvements to its technology to prevent counterfeiting and piracy in its software programs.

"Windows 8 and Office 2013 have the strongest anti-counterfeiting and anti-piracy technologies yet," he said. "The move to the Cloud is also one method being used to reduce this piracy problem.

"We also provide a lot of information to consumers and small business on how to buy software safely. Foremost among those is to buy their software and pre-installed PCs from reputable sellers. If the price looks too good to be true, then it probably is, and there's a good chance you're getting dodgy software."


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