Microsoft to Probe Report of Russian Nonprofits' Harassment Over Software

Microsoft Corp., the world’s biggest software maker, will investigate a report that efforts to combat piracy of its programs in Russia resulted in the harassment of nongovernmental agencies.

“We unequivocally abhor any attempt to leverage intellectual property rights to stifle political advocacy or pursue improper personal gain,” Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith wrote today in a blog post. The company will hire an independent international law firm to conduct an investigation and advise on new measures the company should take, he said.

Microsoft will take more steps to ensure that NGOs and other groups that act as public advocates aren’t mistreated amid anti-piracy efforts, Smith said. On Sept. 11, the New York Times reported that Russian security services monitored “outspoken advocacy groups” and seized their computers, claiming the groups were using pirated Microsoft software.

Microsoft plans a new license for the organizations to make sure they have free, legal Microsoft software and will create an legal aid program in Russia to help them document that they have legitimate software, Smith said.

“It’s clear we have a responsibility to take new steps to address the situation,” Smith wrote.

Microsoft rose $1.26, or 5.3 percent, to $25.11 at 4 p.m. New York time on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The stock has dropped 18 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dina Bass in Seattle at dbass2@bloomberg.net

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