Profits from piracy
Earlier this summer, Microsoft and China, two inscrutable monoliths waging a protracted cold war over copyrights and software pricing, finally decided to settle their differences via a three-year, $750 million "memorandum of understanding," the largest deal ever between the Chinese government and a foreign software company.
Details of the "understanding," announced in June, were both vague and open-ended. About the only overlap between both parties' descriptions was that Microsoft was supplying the $750 million and China was supplying the human resources. Still, given the background of the relationship, it seemed a safe bet that China's 92 percent software piracy rate -- second worst in the world, according to the Business Software Alliance -- had been a central issue during the negotiations.
Or maybe not. Asked about the glaring lack of a copyright enforcement clause in the new deal, Microsoft president and CEO Steve Ballmer did a quick Nixonian shuffle.
[ Read more ]