Microsoft helping Russian dissidents

Sept. 13, 2010 at 4:37 PM

REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Microsoft Monday said it would grant blanket software licenses to Russian dissident groups targeted by prosecutors in software piracy investigations.

The New York Times reported Russian prosecutors have crippled the operations of opposition newspapers and advocacy groups, seizing computers and justifying the seizures by charging possible piracy of Microsoft software.

Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith announced the automatic coverage at least through 2012 in a company blog posting.

"We want to be clear that we unequivocally abhor any attempt to leverage intellectual property rights to stifle political advocacy or pursue improper personal gain," Smith said. "We are moving swiftly to seek to remove any incentive or ability to engage in such behavior."

The announcement, which could be expanded to other countries, came in response to a New York Times story indicating Microsoft's Russian division was helping prosecutors in pursuing piracy cases against advocacy groups and opposition newspapers.

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