Microsoft targets South Africa for anti-piracy campaign

As part of the ongoing effort to clamp down on software piracy, Microsoft Corp.’s South African subsidiary has asked local companies to sign declarations that they are using legal copies of Microsoft’s products.

Microsoft calls the declaration a “clean bill of health” and is using the pledge as a means of controlling use of its software in South Africa, the continent’s largest and fastest growing IT market. The effort follows an initiative called “Truth or Dare” in which Microsoft asked more than 35,000 end users and businesses to begin using legal software over the course of a two-month period, which recently expired.

Companies and individuals that owned up to using pirated software copies will not face litigation, Microsoft said. However, the company is enforcing its licensing agreements and is taking steps to make certain that those who came forward during the initiative are indeed using legal software.

More than 47 per cent of the software used in South Africa in 1999 was illegal, costing the nation more than US$2 billion in tax revenues, according to government and industry estimates.