Microsoft won a battle in the overall war against piracy in China, after the ringleaders of a large-scale Chinese counterfeiting ring were handed jail sentences after being busted in 2007.
"Microsoft greatly appreciates the work of China’s PSB and the FBI in taking strong enforcement action against this global software counterfeiting syndicate," Microsoft Worldwide Anti-Piracy and Anti-Counterfeiting general counsel David Finn said in a statement.
The ring was believed to be the largest software counterfeiting ring operating in China — selling more than $2 billion of pirated material — with prison terms ranging from a year-and-a-half up to six-and-a-half years. Microsoft first began monitoring the group in 2001, and watched for four years before the FBI and Chinese authorities began working together in 2005 to bring the group down.
Over 19 products, including Windows XP, Vista and Office 2007, were manufactured in China, sold over the Internet, and shipped to the United States, Europe, and other locations. Rather than focus on the Chinese market, where pirated products are sold for extremely low prices, the group sold products to "high-value" markets — Microsoft found the pirated software in 36 different countries.
China is known as a hotbed for pirated materials, with representatives from the software, music, movie and video game industries pleading with the Chinese government to take a stand against piracy. The country has increased penalties for alleged pirates, but the epidemic is still growing, analysts admit.