Software piracy is big business, and a big problem for the companies that make it. Microsoft is possibly one of the biggest targets of piracy, and is well known for investing a lot of effort in an attempt to curb the illegal distribution of its software.
But now the company has highlighted exactly how dangerous buying illicit software can be. Last week was the 6th Global Congress on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy where Microsoft Associate General Counsel David Finn was invited to give a presentation on behalf of the software-giant.
The focus of the presentation was how criminal organisations were increasingly turning to software counterfeiting as a low-risk, high-profit way to fund their other activities. He even showed a seized copy of Office 2007 clearly stamped with logo of the Mexican Familia drug cartel, the profits of which apparently would have helped to fund drug and arms trafficking.
According to Finn, the cartel had a distribution network comprising more than 180,000 points of sale in shops and market stalls which managed to generate around $2.2 million per day (£1.37 million).
Obviously he also highlighted the increased risk of malware being included in pirated software, pointing to China's poor record on enforcing property rights and the high incidence of systems infected with viruses.
Unsurprisingly, Microsoft, its team of lawyers and an army of engineers and developers are working hard to counter piracy in any way that they can. As Interpol's head of IP-rights protection told Bloomberg, though, "organized criminals are at the very centre of the problem," meaning that law enforcement, governments and businesses will have to work together to effectively tackle the problem.