Microsoft exec touts mixed source ventures

Interview: Microsoft's Horacio Gutierrez talks about IP issues, piracy

InfoWorld: What about the issue of piracy?  Is that still a problem?
Gutierrez: Piracy is a global problem and I think to be able to assess how we're doing you would have to really separate by region or even by country. I think there are a number of countries in which we've had some encouraging progress and we've seen, for example, some positive steps being taken by some of the key governments in the largest jurisdictions. In other countries, piracy continues to be rampant with rates that exceed 90 percent in some cases.  This is the kind of problem that you're not going to solve with a uni-dimensional approach. Piracy is a problem that needs to be solved by a combination of things, by enhancing the legal system in order to create the tools that are necessary from a legal perspective to protect intellectual property. Once the laws are in the books then you need to have an enforcement mechanism that focuses on the piracy problem and is technically equipped to detect it and to fight piracy, which in many countries is associated with organized crime. It is really significant business in many countries. You need education from the point of view of the consumer. And then you need a judicial system that understands the IP issues and is prepared to enforce them. So it's really the whole spectrum of activities that will bring the results and it's certainly a long-term battle.

InfoWorld: Can you name a country or two where things have gotten better and one or two countries where things are still pretty bad?  And how much money does Microsoft lose through piracy each year?
Gutierrez: We can send you the information from a software industry perspective. I don't think we've put a number specifically on the impact on Microsoft, but it is very clear that piracy costs industry billions of dollars every year and it certainly costs governments significant amounts of money in tax revenue that it doesn't collect because the piracy is conducted through informal commercial channels.  I would point out that we've been encouraged by some of the steps that the Chinese government has taken in working with industry to try to collaborate. This is clearly not the end of the road and there's a tremendous amount of work that continues to be done, but certainly we've seen over the last two years that this is an issue that's been taken more seriously.

InfoWorld: What places are still a problem?
Gutierrez: There are a number of countries in Latin America.  And sadly enough, I would say although the piracy rate is not as high [here] as in other countries, we felt that we could have made a lot more progress in the U.S. itself in dealing with the piracy issue.  But as I said, it's a process and it's a process that will take many years to get to the end.

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