Pressure on Microsoft over its controversial anti-piracy campaign in China's mainland has been stepped up with news that a Beijing man is taking the software giant to court for violating the integrity of his computer.[Full coverage]
The man, surnamed Liu, said he was not seeking damages, but was demanding that Microsoft remove a notice that he has been the victim of software piracy from his desktop.
The court has yet to announce whether it will hear the case, which may set a precedent for thousands of Chinese computer owners to demand the restoration of their software.
"Microsoft has no right to judge whether the installed software is pirated or not," said Liu, who lodged his suit at Haidian District People's Court in Beijing. "It has no right to penalize users by intruding on their computers."
The China Computer Federation has issued a statement condemning the moves by Microsoft, which include a program that blacks out the desktop if it detects pirated software, and permanent warnings on screens. The federation's statement said the company breached the basic ethics of software developers with the unsolicited remote control of computers.
"If a company believes others have infringed their intellectual property rights, it can collect evidence and take judicial measures to deal with the infringement according to Chinese law," the statement said.
"It is improper to take illegal measures to deal with (piracy), and the public will not accept the black-screen move."
The federation suggested that the government order Microsoft to stop the blackouts and investigate foreign monopolies in China's mainland software market. It warned that national security was threatened if the country lacked its own computer operating systems and office applications.
Meanwhile, Dong Zheng°?wei, a 35-year-old Beijing lawyer, has made a submission to the State Administration for Industry and Commerce suggesting a US$1 billion fine for Microsoft.
He also asked anti-mono°?poly authorities to investigate the "black-screen" move and order the company to desist, after complaining to the Ministry of Public Security that the Microsoft move was the "biggest hacking activity in China, infringing privacy and damaging information security."
A source from the administration said it would look into the application. A Microsoft spokesman said the company, according to its practice, would not comment on lawsuits.
Microsoft launched the "Windows Genuine Advantage" and "Office Genuine Advantage" tools last week to test the legitimacy of the software in China's computers.
Although the company repeated it would not collect personal information with the tools, which would not affect computer use, controversy over the move has escalated.
"The administration understands and supports the rights-protection moves taken by institutions, including Microsoft," said Yan Xiaohong, National Copyright Administration vice-director, on Monday, But he said Microsoft should "pay attention to the methods" it used.
(Shanghai Daily October 29, 2008)