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MORE -- Is Microsoft behind the software slaughter in Central America?

Feb 11, 2000, 21:11 (23 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Tom Adelstein)

By Tom Adelstein

Dateline February 11, Ilopango -- This note in from El Salvador:

"I just sent you some copies of the advertising our Government is doing almost every day as a countdown toward the deadline for legalizing software.

I also included some copies for you to see the advantage Microsoft, through their representatives, is taking on the issue. No other competitor advertises and offers alternatives far from Microsoft. El Salvador, as a market is interesting, Central America as a whole is even better. "

"What have we discovered? The practices used in El Salvador appear widespread throughout third world countries. Does Microsoft encourage copying of their software until they have it fully implemented in an economy and then pull the trigger? Once they have the market, do they pressure the government to penalize anyone who hasn't paid for a license?"

Here are reports we've received from around the globe. Some names we omitted to protect people's lives.

anon writes:
"The news we are receiving from El Salvador makes me worried. In Dominican Republic, BSA (Business Software Alliance) has worked as Microsoft GESTAPO police, and they've been pushing some strong arm tactics with the blessing of the Dominican Government."

anon writes:
"Well, 1st... Microsoft decided to chase piracy worldwide. Here in Brazil, this work has begun almost 6 months ago. It's called something like 'Tolerance Zero'. We have a couple people arrested, a lot of companies being fined and so on. Ok, it's MS Software, they deserve to receive money for it. But, and this issue they won't tell you, the price of piracy is already built-in in the product final price. So, as a rule of thumb, the software will cost more where it's more pirated. There are exceptions due to local currency and economical issues obviously."

anon writes:
"This is very true. I am writing from Malaysia and this happened to us a few years ago and is continuing even up till now. Our company, a multinational oil company was served with a letter by a Malaysian government body just last month to produce photocopies of licenses of all software that we use. I have no doubt that they were coerced by BSA (read MS)."

anon writes:
"When they started a few years ago, they put up whole page advertisements in the local papers that depict a man with his hands handcuffed behind him in prison garb. He was hanging his head in shame. The background was dark (in fact black) with threatening slogans. Later, they offered $10,000 (or 20,000, I forget) local currency to people to snitch on others. I'm sure not a few disgruntled employees got rich. Many coughed up rather than go to jail."

anon writes:
"The same situation is in many other countries. Every thing you said is the same here, in Bulgaria. Even that Bulgaria (and many other small countries) are very different countries from Brazil, they face the same problems in IT. And the Microsoft tactics look very similar everywhere -- for many years they do nothing to appeal for their legal rights, letting people be completely assimilated by their software, and when everybody just "can't live' without his/her MS Office, they come and say -- OK, now give us our money, or take that hardware (you know what). The worst is that the government has step in deal with MS, making use and requirement of their products , as law. MS even don't care, that in our law, every product they sold here, need to be translated in our language - they are still not."

anon writes:
"I work for a local government who uses pirated MS software such as NT, Exchange, SQL, Office and SMS. I reported this to the BSA along with all the data of how many licenses we actually have and how many we are using, the numbers were staggering. I spent over an hour on the phone with the BSA giving them every single detail they asked for. What was the result of all this you ask? Nothing! Now I'm sure if I would have reported a business or some kid on a cable modem the BSA would have come down on them with a vengeance but I guess U.S. government both local and federal don't need to follow the laws they make or enforce."

anon writes:
"We've all witnessed here how the BSA has intimidated people by sending fill-in forms for declaring owned software licenses, and even software that you have deleted from the computers. My guess is that if I come out saying that I'm using StarOffice after having deleted MSOffice, they are coming after me... unless I bought Microsoft Office in which case I´ll be "forgiven". I don't think many will report deletions, which would be dumb anyway. Conveniently, The BSA has also sent along the forms, Microsoft's "propaganda" consisting in brochures from products such as Windows NT, and Office 2000, so it's clear that here the BSA is working as MS´s appendix for *enforcing* sales of MS´s products."

Sancar Saran writes:
"Turkey: BSA try to threaten every one, license it or go to jail."

CAGS writes:
"In Dominican Republic, BSA Business Software Alliance has worked as Microsoft GESTAPO police, and they've been pushing some strong arms tactics with the blessing of the Dominican Government."

Dennis Lee writes:
"I am writing from Malaysia and this happened to us a few years ago and is continuing even up till now. When they started a few years ago, they put up whole page advertisements in the local papers that depict a man with his hands handcuffed behind him in prison garb. He was hanging his head in shame. The background was dark (in fact black) with threatening slogans. Later, they offered $10,000 (or 20,000, I forget) local currency to people to snitch on others. I'm sure not a few disgruntled employees got rich. Many coughed up rather than go to jail."

Raul Millan writes:
"Panama had the same situation that El Salvador is living, about 1 year ago. Nothing big happened, a couple of banks got a fine for I don't know how many thousand dollars."

"As Guatemalan Linux user I feel that the actual government is making the things more difficult for open software to become deployed:

  • "The people who goes with the idea of "free software" is banned from offering services to the government.
  • "Government say: "We are a poor country"; they buy in every department M$ software and have a deal to not let in Linux or friends.
  • "I have made like 100 Linux installations in the enterprise level but none in the government.
  • Actually they doesn't want to build more schools in very marginal areas but they have make a deal with M$ to deploy M$ operating systems in all schools."

Hello European Union -- are you listening.

For information on how to write your congressman and further help, go to www.nt2linux.com and for a comprehensive site go to linuxfiesta.com . Any one wanting to work to contribute content or act as moderator contact Michael Anderson.

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