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HEARD ON THE BEAT

Fake Windows 98

July 13, 1998|P.J. HUFFSTUTTER

Despite international efforts to curb high-tech theft, sales of pirated software continue to plague the computer industry. The U.S. software industry lost $11.4 billion in revenue worldwide last year through the sale of pirate disks, according to a recent study by the Business Software Alliance and the Software Publishers Assn.

Last week, Anaheim police arrested a 27-year-old man on suspicion of selling pirated versions of Microsoft Corp.'s new operating system. Microsoft officials said this was the first piracy case involving Windows 98, the latest version of the software giant's PC program.

"It's the first case that we're aware of where law enforcement has gone after someone with Windows 98," said Annmarie Levins, corporate attorney for Microsoft. "The software was just released [last month], so it's surprising that they got [the fake] copies out on the U.S. market so fast."

To offset this problem, computer firms say they are trying to work with police to stymie the distribution of illegally copied software.

In last week's case in Orange County, detectives of the Anaheim Police Economic Crimes Detail said they began investigating Donald Allen Goldberg in April, after receiving tips that he was placing advertisements for computer software in local publications.

"After the police made a purchase [of the fake disks], they sent it to our engineers," said Dave Swartzendruber, who works with Microsoft International Law Corporate Affairs' anti-piracy team. The engineers checked the software code on the disks and confirmed that the software had been copied illegally.

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